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3 1833 00097 0100 

.JG\ 1 bert, FrsnkM. 

H)stor\' of the city of 
Evansville and Vanderburg 
A=:^- Co-j Ind. 













CONTENTS 1155628 























SHAWLS . 52 








TOWN — m'gARY's trouble WHY HE LEFT HERE 58 






































NIGHT 119 











































































































In all histories of Evansville that are extant it seems to be assumed that 
Hugh McGary came from some point in Kentucky in a canoe, and landed 
at the old Elm Tree which stood near the foot of what is now Division 
street and first saw the site of the Evansville of today. 

This is an error. He may have come over from Kentucky to the site 
of this city as is the general belief, but it can be shown that this was not 
his first visit to the place but that he came down to the river here after a 
visit to Vincennes. 

Indiana was once a very paradise for game. But while the big seal of 
the state has a cut of a buffalo, it cannot be shown that buffaloes ever stayed 
here in any great numbers. 

This was a "wood" country and the buffalo is not a wood animal. Again, 
while the buffalo likes small streams such as exist in the great western 
prairies where the animal roamed at one time in countless thousands, it 
does not like marshes, such as existed above White river or clear up to Vin- 
cennes, nor great streams like the Ohio river. Neither would it stand the 
overflows from southern Indiana streams. But deer and turkeys and 
smaller game could be found anywhere and the Indians in this section were 
deer hunters. 

Strangly enough, many people suppose that the Indians belong to one 
family, just as do the Chinese or Japanese, but they are as different in their 
habits, characteristics, looks and languages as can be imagined. 



In this part of the country there were five separate or distinct tribes, 
the Shawnees, Miamis, Piaukeshaws, Wyandotts and Delawares. Perhaps 
the most powerful band was the Shawnees, but their territory lay rather 
below here along the river and the town of Shawnee, Illinois, derives its 
name from them. 

The "pocket" in which lies Vanderburg County was claimed by the 
Miamis. As stated, the Shawnees, while they hunted here, began their 
claim at the Wabash river, which in the early days was spelled "Ouabache." 

What the Miamis claimed was the entire tract between Detroit and the 
headwaters of the Scioto river, thence to its mouth. From there they took 
in the entire Ohio river to the mouth of the Wabash and from there up to 
Chicago. So there is no question as to who claimed to be the original 
owners of Evansville. But the claim made in 1795 was not valid, for 
twenty years before that time one Louis Viviat. a French trader, held a 
meeting with several chiefs and sachems of the Piaukeshaw nation, at 
Post Saint Vincent (which is now the city of A^incennes). 

Among those with whom he dealt were "The Black Fly," "The Mus- 
quito," "Little Beaver," "Tobacco" and "Tobac Jr." 

The records show that he got a deed from eleven chiefs and it shows 
just what blankets, ribbons, vermilion, fusils, buckhom handle knives, 
brass kettles, gun flints (10,000), "two pounds of lead," and all sorts of 
silver arm bands, "ear-bobs," wrist bands, whole moons, half moons, etc., 
etc., he gave. He also put in three horses. Many of the trinkets given in 
exchange to the Indians for this land have been found from time to time 
in mounds in the Wabash valley, and more likely are a portion of the pur- 
chase price of the virgin wilderness by the first white men to locate in the 

What concerns us is the part that applies to our present site, which is 
thus described : "That tract or parcel of land situated, lying and being on 
both sides of the Ouabache river beginning at the mouth of White river 
where it empties into the Ouabache river (about twelve leagues below Post 
Saint Vincent), thence down Ouabache river by several courses thereof, 
until it empties into the Ohio river, being from the said White river to the 
Ohio river fifty-three leagues in length, with forty leagues in length or 
breadth on each side, and thirty leagues in width or breadth on the west 
side of the Ouabache river aforesaid." 

So Louis Viviat was the first owner and all (?) he got for his blankets, 
beads, etc., were 37,497,600 acres of the finest land on which the sun ever 
shone. This of course covers the two tracts he got that day. 

Viviat's company held this claim for many years and tried as late as 
1810 to have it confirmed but Congress refused. (There were no scoundrel 
lobyists in Washington in those days or Viviat would have gotten the land 
and probably a pension for having "rescued" that much soil from the 


The Piaukeshaws did not recognize any claim by the Miamis, and in 
1768 gave a Vanderburg, Gibson, Posey, Pike, Spencer and a part of Perry 
Counties to the Delaware and their right to do this was acknowledged by 
the Miamis in the treaty of 1804 (sth article). Their title was further 
relinquished on February 5th, 1805. 

On the 14th of the same month a treaty was formally proclaimed with 
the Delaware tribe by Gen. W. H. Harrison, who was then Governor of 
the state, and thus the red man relinquished his claim forever. 

This land was placed on sale at Vincennes and little places, widely scat- 
tered, were soon cleared up. 

In 1835 I stood under the trees under which this treaty was made. 

In all stories regarding the Indians there is much of tradition and there 
is much which has no real basis. 

The Indians of Indiana were never such bloodthirsty devils as the Co- 
manches and the native tribes of the great West. 

Long after the treaty they still continued to hunt in this section, but 
about all the harm they did was to steal. Some day the public will know 
all about the "noble Indian." There may have been some noble ones in 
those days, but they were few and some day the white people will under- 
stand that there are some races that live only for the day. For tomorrow 
they care nothing. Start the uneducated savage with a fortune and he 
would lose it as soon as possible, just as would the average shiftless negro. 
And so these savages roamed at will through a country where game was 
so plenty that it was a nuisance and, if they had plenty to eat and any 
kind of a place to sleep, they were content. 

Uncle Sam has saved the Indian from many evils which afflicted him in 
the old days. The red man knows little of the actual terrors of starvation 
which came to him at not infrequent intervals when he got his living from 
the game of the forest or the prairie. He isn't constantly involved in 
marauding warfare and he isn't liable at almost any moment of his exist- 
ence to be captured and killed to the music of the tomtoms as he was in 
the good old days. 

But after all the government has substituted new terrors for old. All 
of the western states have game laws which are enforced more or less 
strictly against white people but they are enforced with great rigor against 
the Indian. We have cooped the red man up in his reservation, and like 
many other wrild things he can't stand the confinement. In the old days 
there was little, if any, tuberculosis among the Indians. Today the shadow 
of consumption hangs darkly over the untamed tribes of the West. 

Of course we know that the Indian has been more or less a sufferer, 
always, since he was driven to the far west. 

There may be some good Indian agents, but they are few and far be- 
tween. Naturally these places fall to politicians and I have personally seen 
men who were supposed to outline Indian policies, who knew as little about 
real Indians and their ways and wants as a child. They were the kind of 


men who had been raised in cities, and any woodsman could take them 
out of a deer camp and lose them, hopelessly, in five minutes. They would 
not ven know what "chuck" to take for a day's fish two miles out of town 
and couldn't tell a two year old steer from a ten year old wood-ox, if their 
horns were both long. Yet they drew their $iO per day and all expenses, 
and "conducted" ( ?) Indian affairs. What chance would they have with 
a sharp agent on a Reservation? They would simply swallow whatever he 
had to say. 

It would hardly be right to neglect a mention of the game of this sec- 

Pigeon Creek, and Pigeon Township were named for the countless 
millions of wild pigeons that located each year in this section and raised 
their young. I myself saw the last of the great flocks when I was a little 
boy. I stood where now is Sunset Park, with my father, and saw them 
darken the sky flying over. Later, when I could hold a gun I killed them 
in the woods along the present Washington Avenue. I killed wild ducks 
in a slough this side of there and wild turkeys just off the Green river 
road to the right of the Fair Grounds, and my first deer, killed when I was 
twelve, was at the mouth of Green river. 

If it was so plenty in my young days, think what it must have been when 
Hugh McGary settled here. 

The rifle was as much a part of the household goods in his days as is 
the stove or range today. It furnished the meat. Hogs and cattle were 
few and too precious to be killed. 

Most of the rifles were flint lock, for this was before the day of the 
percussion cap. They were all small bore; in fact, they sometimes called 
them "pea" or squirrel rifles and many will wonder why this size was used^ 
Simply because lead was almost a luxury. Speaking again of what I have 
seen in the early day, I've seen the man who won fifth prize at a rifle shoot- 
ing match (the lead in the tree) digging for dear life for the little pellets, 
no matter how deeply embedded, and he got them all; for to miss a tree in 
those days would be almost a crime. 

An old hunter one day handed me a squirrel. It was shot through the 
neck and its body was untouched. When I thanked him and asked him 
why he gave it to me he said: "Do you think I'd take a squirrel home to 
my old woman that wasn't shot in the eye? She'd think I was gittin old 
and losin' my sight." 

There were wonderful shots in those days and wonderful woodsmen. 
To them the woods were an open book. A leaf turned here, or a little 
scrape there, all meant something. And they could imitate anything from 
the bleat of a deer to the yelp of a turkey and could get behind a log, and 
with their hats on the leaves, imitate the fighting of two gobblers so naturally 
that a flock, especially when led by pugnacious gobblers, would come right 
up to them. 


Green river, that cold and clear stream, was literally alive with black 
bass, as was Wabash below us, while the enormous "Ohio river cats" some- 
times ran over lOO pounds each. 

All this section was alive with what went by the term "varmints" — bear, 
wild cats, weasels, 'coons, 'possoms, otters, mink — the pest of the first 
poultrymen — foxes, skunks and squirrels. 

The ovraers of the little farms or "clearings" had a hard time, for they 
had to watch day and night to keep their crops from being eaten. 

And the dogs. No family felt safe without them. No pedigree was 
theirs. They were just sturdy pioneer dogs, taught to hate an Indian or 
suspect any stranger who was not made welcome at once. Ready to tackl^ 
a bear or worry it till their masters came up; chase a fox or mink; "tree" 
a 'coon or wild cat, or "trail" a crippled deer. They were all sorts, sizes and 
shapes, but they were true as steel. 

Just as the Indians always relied on their dogs to give warning of the 
approach of a foe or stranger, so did the pioneers. 

Reverting to the scarcity of bullets, all sorts of ways of taking game 
without the wasting of lead were in vogue. There were "dead falls" with 
the old figure 4 trap, for everything from a bear down to a 'coon. Of 
course it took skill to put them in the right place, but this was a part of the 
hunter's lore. 

But the most common thing was the turkey trap, and these were used 
in this section and especially over in Kentucky as late as the sixties. 

A turkey trap was simply a low covered pen, leading into which was a 
shallow trench. After the pen was built, it was allowed to lie idle till the 
leaves on the saplings faded and the traveling bands of turkeys grew accus- 
tomed to seeing it. Soon the pioneer would begin to scatter a little corn 
through the woods, always leaving the most of it near the trench. The 
trench extended into the pen, and just over it and close to the front wall 
was an old board. 

When, by the "sign" the owner could see that the turkeys were coming 
regularly, he would sprinkle a lot in the trench and a pile just inside the 
pen. The unsuspecting turkeys would keep pecking and pushing past each 
other to get at the big pile and. once past the old board, they were caught, 
for they never thought of going out the way them came. It was not un- 
usual to get twenty at a time. 

The "trench" was also used. This was simply a trench wide enough 
for the turkeys to jump into, and the corn, after the "tolling" corn was 
scattered in the woods, was all in a straight line along the bottom. The 
hunter went before day to his post which was behind some big bush in a 
direct line with the trench and waited for the victims to come. As soon 
as they were feeding well he gave a low whistle and when the flock raised 
their heads he shot off the head of the nearest big gobbler taking chances 
on hitting several more with the same bullet. As many as eight turkeys 
have been killed by one bullet in this manner. 


Of course for quail and rabbits the old square trap made out of hickory 
splints, fastened together with bark and set with a nubbin of corn on a 
figure four, was used. 

The bear trap was a huge affair — an enormous log, raised up and set 
so that it could fall only in a certain place, and to get to the bait the bear 
must step exactly into position. In setting these, the skill of the hunter 
was again called into play. The world wagged then just as it does now. 
Some hunters were very "lucky" because they used their brains and were 
not afraid of toil and exposure to all kinds of weather, and their traps 
were set and watched as they should be. Others were "unlucky" simply 
because they liked a big fireplace too well. There were hardy pioneers in 
those days and some less hardy just as one finds them today in the 
"pioneers of industry." 

In every work regarding the settlement of southern Indiana, much 
space is given to Indian murders and hunting. But it is a fact that after 
going carefully over all the old stories I cannot find an account of a single 
Indian atrocity that occurred at or near Evansville. All the old works are 
full of them, but the nearest crimes of which any record is given were 
near Vincennes, or Rockport (only one happening there) or along the Wa- 
bash in White County. 

But of hunting tales there is a great store. I doubt if there are today 
in Evansville twenty men who understand how to "pick up a sign" or "still 
hunt," for that is the way our ancestors hunted. 

It was only after the introduction of the long eared Virginia and North 
and South Carolina hounds that driving deer began. As I state elsewhere, 
cur dogs were the only kind known here in the early days. Many of the 
younger generation, however, love to read old hunting stories and this will 
reach the eyes of many who will never see a wild deer or wild turkey. 
"Hounding" deer and "driving" deer are synonymous. The hunter goes 
out with his hounds securely tied until he reaches a well known feeding 
place or a deer crossing, i. e., a place where they cross little lakes or creeks. 
The hounds are then released and the hunter stands quietly and listens 
When they strike a trail that is fresh, they at once "give tongue," i. e., begin 
to bark and follow it rapidly. The hunter listens till he gets the general 
direction and then hurries to some favorite crossing spot and waits for the 
deer to come running past him. All he has to do is to allow for the speed 
of the deer and kill it, for it usually passes within thirty yards of him. ^ 

A deer can play ahead of the hounds all day, or "back track" by a "side 
jump," and by this I mean that it will jump stiflf legged as far as possible 
to one side and quietly sneak off a little way. Then when the dogs have 
passed it will jump back into its own trail and go back the way it came. 

A wily old buck can be driven by hounds every day for weeks, and 
never even allow them to catch sight of him. 

When he gets tired of playing with them he will go to some body of 
water and wade around the edge till he makes one great leap into the woods 


far away from where he left his trail. Many think that the deer leaves a 
distinct scent with its hoofs. It does after a fashion, but the strong scent 
is left by two tufts of hair that grow just inside each hind leg at the knee. 
Deer can keep out of almost any danger from brutes. 

Years ago Dr. Bacon, hunting over the country just across the Wabash 
and back of the camp owned now by a party of our citizens — a territory 
where I killed big game as late as 1878 — saw, while under cover of a thicket, 
two deer, a large buck with spreading antlers, and a doe in full flight before 
two dogs, in the woods that formed part of the forest of the Hickling and 
Finch farms, not far from the now Charles Finch's home. The doe was 
accompanied by a very young fawn, which appeared quite exhausted and 
ready to drop. The mother deer, doubtless well aware of this, slackened 
her pace and presently stopped close to some thick bramble bushes. The 
doctor's sympathy went out to the much scared and nearly heart-broken 

He determined to save her fawn, even should he have to pay for the 
sacrificed dogs, if necessary. He fixed his gun and got ready for action. 
She remained some time there with lowered head as if awaiting the onset 
of her pursuers. Suddenly an idea seemed to strike her and with a butt 
of the head she tossed her fawn right in the middle of the thicket. Then 
first advancing as if to make sure it was well hidden — the buck had now 
got out of sight — she soon set off by rapid bounds in front of the dogs. 
The latter barking close upon her heels, she made a sudden bend to the 
west and thus drew them far from the spot where the incident occurred. 

The howling of the dogs became fainter and fainter, the valiant animal 
having doubtless led them several miles away into the marshes of the Rose 
pond, where the dogs lost their scent, and it was learned later that they 
returned to their owner's home in an exhausted condition, while the intel- 
ligent mother doubtless returned to the bushes to find the little fawn that 
she had so closely hidden and placed in safety. 

But why is it that Mother Nature, having given the creatures of the wild 
the power and the instinct to ward off danger from their natural foes, has 
always left some habit which man learns and of which he takes advantage? 
Often while seated on some old log in the deep woods I have thought of 
this and wondered. Even the boy, killing his first squirrel which has seen 
him plainly and gone around the tree on him, knows that he has only to 
throw a chunk into the bushes on the other side of the tree and the squir- 
rel will forget him and dart back from the new danger. 

But to return to still hunting, the only sport. The man who "hounds" 
is to me only a butcher. The still hunter matches his ears, his eyesight 
and his knowledge of woodcraft against that of the deer. He goes out in 
the early morning, after a heavy dew or rain, for if the leaves are dry he 
might as well stay at home. Arriving at a good place he stands still and lis- 
tens and looks.' He is not misled by the jumping of a squirrel on a tree, 


or the alighting of a bird on a bush. He is looking for a brown patch that 
moves at intervals. 

Soon he locates one and looking to see that it is the twitching ear of a 
deer, he sinks slowly to the ground till he looks over the lay of the land. 
A city man might look a year at the exact place and never see it, but the 
eye of the old-time hunter was wonderful. 

Now here is where Nature made her mistake in the deer. As long as 
it is browsing on the ground, nothing moves but its lips. Its tail is down 
and the ears are laid back. But, just before it intends raising its head to 
look for danger, it wiggles its tail. After looking around on every side it 
wiggles it again just before it puts down its head. Thus the hunter has a 
sure barometer. His settling and watching is to be certain to know when 
the deer is feeding and when looking. 

As soon as this is done he rises, and while the head is down he glides 
rapidly from tree to tree. This is called "stalking." At the first wiggle 
of the tail he stands like a statue no matter if in an open place, for the 
deer fears only moving objects, and as long as he stands quiet takes him 
for an old stump. 

Soon he is in range, and if a good shot holds at the "edge of the white" 
just behind the shoulder. This sends the bullet through the heart. Again 
Nature helps him. If the deer bounds off with its tail high in the air, he 
has made a clean miss, but if the tail is clumped down, he has only to fol- 
low the bloody trail and he will find a dead deer. 

Strangely, the bullet invariably cuts out a little round patch of skin and 
hair, which drops. To show how true this is I may be excused for relating 
a little incident. 

While hid in a thicket watching for turkeys a big doe ran past. I heard 
her snort and run before I saw her and figured just where she would pass. 
I had a clean shot and saw her tail go down and clump and knew I had her. 
So I sat and waited for my partner who was to meet me if I shot. Soon 
he came up with, "How did you miss that big doe?" "I didn't," I replied. 
"Why," said he, "I saw her go across that prairie head-like a race horse." 
"Did you notice her tail?" "No, I was too far ofif." "Well, let me con- 
vince you then," and I rose from the log for the first time, for it is always 
well to keep quiet after a shot. (Another deer may come along, as hap- 
pened one day when I shot a doe and without ever moving except to throw 
in another shell got a fine buck that was trailing her. If I had moved he 
would have run back long before I even saw him.) 

But to return. I first showed him where all of a sudden all her feet 
fairly dug into the earth. That was when she was hit. Then we hunted 
till we found the patch. We found the deer in the brush just across the 
prairie, stone dead. The bullet broke a rib, cut a V out of her heart down 
low and smashed a rib on the other side. It fell out all mushroomed, when 
we hung her up and drew her. I held a fraction too low, and that was, 
why she was able to run. 


It is useless to speak of shooting deer at the salt licks. No hunter who 
had any self-respect would do it, for it would stamp him as a man too lazy 
or not smart enough to still hunt. To kill at a "lick" the hunter simply 
made a place in a tree where he could stretch comfortably and wait for the 
deer to come to lick at the salt earth. There is no telling how many have 
been killed at the old salt well in Cooks Park. I saw a fine buck near there 
in 1858, but I think it had strayed over from the Wabash country. I had 
only quail shot in a single barrelled gun and could not have killed it, so 
did not shoot. 

In mentioning the fact that the buffalo did not stay in great quantities 
in the state of Indiana, it must not be assumed that great bands of them 
were not seen at various times, and the fact that the early settlers never 
went far west from where they decided to locate led them to believe that 
the buffaloes they saw made this their home, but this is not a fact and for 
the reasons that I have given. They could not exist in the northern part 
of the state, for that would be out of their latitude but they passed through 
Southern Indiana without doubt and in great quantities. A recent writer 
in treating of the old days of Indiana, speaks of a buffalo trace. This is a 
misnomer. There is no such thing as a buffalo trace. I was west during 
the last days of the buffalo and was daily with men who had hunted them 
for years and never heard the word trace used. In fact, it was always the 
word trail. They would speak of the Mexican trail or Santa Fe trail and 
the Texas trail, but each and every one was the same. And again he speaks 
of a beaten path wide enough for a wagon road. It is with no wish to 
criticise him that I must correct him in this. A buffalo trail consists of a 
great number of little paths no wider than the ordinary cattle would make. 
These diverge and converge in and out. Sometimes they wandered out into 
the prairie as if starting in some different direction, but they soon turned 
back into the old trail. There is nothing I ever saw as peculiar as one of 
these big trails. Just this side of Fort Morgan, Kansas, was one of the 
largest trails in the west. It was dotted on every side with buffalo wallows 
and as far as the eye could reach these green spots in the prairie could be 
seen. They were of course on both sides of the trail as the buffalo, when 
wanting to make a wallow, always wandered out from the main trail. Al- 
though no buffaloes had passed there for several years, the prairie dirt 
was so beaten down that when I tried it with my knife, it was almost like 
picking stone. 

To return to the wallows. The writer to whom I refer speaks of them 
and gives their appearance as the reason for the plentifulness of buffaloes 
in the early days and mentions some of them as the "mud-holes." In these 
wallows which existed in the west for years after the buffalo were all 
gone, the grass was very green and much stronger than anywhere else and 
as they are soon to be a thing of the past and will never be seen by 
coming generations, , having gone out of existence with the wiping out of 
the buffaloes, a. description will be interesting. 


In hot weather, buffaloes suffered very much from the heat and also 
from the flies and gnats. This country formerly was full of these pests 
and so plentiful were they that deer have been known to come near the 
fires where settlers were clearing their ground, and stand in the smoke to 
rid themselves of these pests. In fact, it was no unusual thing when a 
farmer wanted venison, to step out to one side of his burning log heaps 
and watch for a good fat doe to come up. In spite of the thick hide of the 
buffalo, they suffered from these insects and these wallows are the result of 
their attempt to defend themselves from them. As a herd would be going 
along, a big buffalo bull would spy a little green spot possibly near the 
bank of some stream and his instinct would tell him that there was water 
underneath. Naturally one would ask "Why didn't they go into the water 
to rid themselves of the flies and gnats?" but it was not water they wanted, 
as will be seen. The big bull would go to this little spot perhaps not 
larger than a foot across, and dropping on his knees, would commence 
goring the sides with his short but very strong horns, working himself 
round and around as a hog would. As he made his hole, the water would 
come in and he would keep digging and digging until he had the hole al- 
most twice as large as himself and then he would wallow in it exactly as a 
common hog does in a mud hole and when he came out his whole hide 
would be covered with a mass of mud which would soon dry and which 
made his skin impervious to insects. All this time the rest of the herd 
would stand around and if the spot was at all swampy, other wallows would 
be made but the second bull in the herd, and by this I mean the one nearest 
in strength to the one which was always the leader, would step right into 
the original wallow and take his bath in turn. There was no chivalry in 
this matter at all. The buffaloes measured everything by strength. The 
bulls took their turns and the poor cows had to wait and often a whole 
afternoon or almost a day would be spent by these animals in plastering 
themselves with the mud and they would then go along their trail in a direc- 
tion which their instinct had always marked out before. At times these 
trails turned away to the salt licks but they were always from east to west 
and the buffaloes that passed through here were always on their road to 
that great west in which they naturally found their proper surroundings. 
Mr. Wilson in his well-written book on Dubois County, says that in that 
county the presence of the buffalo was only transient, that he was seen 
going or coming and then not later than 1808. He also says that toward 
the close of the 18th century, a very cold winter, which continued several 
months, froze all vegetables, starved the animals and the herds never re- 
gained their loss. I think this bears out my idea that buffaloes only used 
this state and only the southern part of it. for a passage way and the trails 
which crossed the river at Louisville and at Big Bone lake and the Blue 
lakes in Kentucky, were simply on their road to the far west. My only 
reason for giving so much space to this is that the buffalo is and will always 
continue on the state seal and as it is now wiped out of existence by merci- 


less skin hunters, anything pertaining to the animal which once roamed this 
continent in countless millions may be interesting to the reader of the 
present day. 

To this day when wild game and "varmints" are almost unknown in 
this section, there are still many who love fox hunting and enjoy it on 
every occasion. At the little town of Poseyville, and near there, are many 
good hounds and during the proper season fox hunting is a regular thing 
but they are very scarce now and this is one reason why Posey County is 
so full of good poultry, for of all enemies of chickens, with the exception 
of perhaps the weasel, there is no such enemy as the fox. In the old days 
everybody had among their dogs, a few good hounds. Nearly all of these 
were brought from North to South Carolina by the pioneer settlers. They 
could run anything and seemed to know by instinct whether it was foxes 
that were wanted or deer. But as a rule, each neighborhood had two or 
three dogs that were trained to hunt foxes alone. It was no unusual thing 
for a little party to get together and arrange for a fox hunt and certain 
dogs would be selected and the rest tied up. It was no trouble to start a 
fox almost anywhere, for the country was alive with them and once started, 
the wildest kind of fun began. As labor was very scarce, most of the 
fences which were made of rails, were very low. Just high enough to keep 
out stock; and the hunters had no trouble in the excitement of the chase 
in jumping their horses right over them, but if they came to a high fence 
they immediately tore down one section and went through, never stopping 
to put it back in place and no farmer ever complained at this, for he 
might do the same thing for a neighbor on the very next day. But so 
much of this was done that at last the fanners joined together and even the 
fox hunters with them, and the trespass law was enacted. It will be news 
to many to know that this was what first started it. The fox has been 
known to go 20 miles during one night. Of course not in the same direc- 
tion, but circling or "doubling" as they called it. In those days, the treas- 
urers of the various counties paid 50c. each for all fox scalps that had both 
ears attached, that were brought to the court house. The majority of the 
foxes were red, but there were a few grey foxes in this country and their 
hides were of much greater value than the red. The old fox hunters 
claimed that a common fox could make a mile in two minutes and 20 sec- 
onds and a fox hound in two minutes and 40 seconds. This would seem 
to mcike the hunt a very long one, but it was simply a case of condition. 
The fox might have been jumped up just after having eaten a hearty sup- 
per on some stolen pullet or wild duck, while the hound in the old days 
was always so lean that every rib showed. After the trespass law went into 
effect and to save time and trouble the farmers built fences which were 
called "horse high, pig tight and bull strong." These were of course the very 
best rail fences that could be made. But each farmer had to make his own 
for his little settlement was sometimes miles away from that of the nearest 
neighbor. As we look today over some of these beautiful farming lands, 


rolling for miles, the only fence along the road and sometimes not even 
there, because the stock law is rigidly enforced, it is hard to realize how 
these little farms used to look when every little squared spot had to have a 
high fence around it. 


It can easily be understood that where sugar was almost an unknown 
quantity, and was only brought in as a rule by the hardy men who flat- 
boated to New Orleans, who brought back "brown sugar," a sugar-house 
molasses, wild honey was one of the housewife's treasures. 

There are many who claim that wild bees did not appear till after the ad- 
vent of the first settlers here. This is all folly for, no matter what else they 
brought, no settler ever brought with him a "bee gum," (so called from the 
fact that they usually used hollow gum stumps, sawed off for the hives of 
their tame bees). Yet the tame bee loves to roam, and I do not doubt that 
thousands of bee trees along Green River owe their colonies to little bands 
of tame bees that started from the big bee house on the Weeler farm near 
its mouth. 

Bee hunting required a keen eye. Many were found by the hunter 
who happened to see a bee as it passed by. Its home flight, to the hive, was 
always a straight one, and he would follow as far as possible and then 
getting on the shady side, watch for another, and take up its flight and so 
on till he reached the tree that held the store. If he started out with bee 
hunting in view he simply took a little honey or molasses, or anything 
sweet, and after placing it in a good open spot, would wait till a bee came. 
He would then take up the flight as before explained. 

His first thing was to put his mark on the tree, and that mark was sa- 
cred, just as would be the mark of his cattle or hogs, for men were honest 
in those days. A marked tree was usually held at one dollar and the finder 
often sold without the trouble of ever looking up the quantity or quality 
of the honey contained in it. Of course the finder of a tree soon decided 
whether or not the colony was strong. If few bees were flying, it was a 
young colony and he left it till next year. But one could never tell. In my 
young days I helped fell a big bee tree that contained an enormous colony, 
but it was so old that the hollow or crack was filled with old comb, and we 
didn't get enough good honey out of it to pay for the long work of cutting. 
In fact I think we traded all we got to an old colored auntie for a good 
meal, and it was one to remember — chicken, sweet potatoes and hoe cake, 
but cooked as only those old slave women could cook. 


Southern Indiana was a very paradise for wild hogs and soon after 
Evansville was settled the woods back of here were full of them. Those 
who know how prolific the hog is can easily understand that when an old 


sow "went wild," in other words strayed so often that she did not care 
to come home and had her htters in the dense woods, there was soon plenty 
of wild pork. One can hardly believe that this country was once so full of 
nuts or "mast." There were so many nuts that all the animals that loved 
them and all the wild hogs could hardly make an impression on them and 
untold millions of bushels went to waste every year. Of course the original 
founder (or founders) of each drove was marked with the mark of her 
owner, and the drove stayed on their range near the home place, but they 
were as wild as any wild animal. Every farmer had his mark, which was 
duly registered on the books of the county after this fashion : 

John Jones. Slit in right ear. 

Wm. Jones. Slit in left ear. Crop on right. 

Wm. Wilson. Crop on right, underbit on left. 

Thos. Perkins. Crop on right, and underbit on same. 

John White. Cattle. Crop on right. Crop on left. 
" " Hogs. Same, and tail cut off. 

These marks were generally respected, as I have said. It is not so long 
ago that when pork was brought into this city, the question would be 
asked, "What is it? Corn fed or mast fed?" But the settlers only turned to 
pork after the bears were all gone. While pork is called a "sweet" meat, it 
is not to be compared to that of the bear. Bear meat was more easily 
kept, needed less salt and when cured was regarded superior to the best 
corn-fed pork. Bear oil was also much richer than hog's lard. 

The undergrowth was so dense that about the only time a farmer could 
kill his wild hogs was after a good tracking snow. Then he would take 
his sons who were large enough to handle a gun or help in any way, and 
his cur dogs and start out and soon track down a drove. 

The best shoats were then killed but there was constant danger from 
the old boars. These old fellows with their great tusks that "would rip 
open a dog, or slash a man's leg, were always to be feared. They were the 
most vicious animals that roamed the woods for all wild animals would 
sneak away when they had a chance, but the boars would come right into 
the open to fight. They really knew no fear as many a man can testify. I 
once had a narrow escape from one. He was in a "bed." hid by tangled 
vines that grew all around the upturned roots of an enormous tree that had 
blown down, I had slipped noiselessly up and was just thinking "what a 
good place for a bear," when I heard a slight rustle. I had two heavy deer 
loads and both hammers cocked, and whirled around just as I heard a heavy 
animal rush out. All I could see was a great black body, and I took a 
snap shot, not ten feet away, at where I knew the head must be. 

I heard a fall and a continued struggling, but I slipped in another shell 
and waited till all was quiet. Then I gave the "call" yell for my hunting 
partner, and he came to me and we took our big hunting knives and cau- 
tiously went into the tatigled mass. It was an enormous black boar with 
not an ear mark on him, and the whole load had gone right into his neck, 


one of tlie buckshot having broken it. When I saw that wicked head and 
those great tusks I reahzed what an escape I had had, for if I had missed 
him or had not hit him in the right place, he would have cut me to pieces. 

Another time I was still hunting and saw a drove coming. I stood very 
still hoping they would pass by, but they saw me and started slowly forward. 
Some good Samaritan had sawed a tree high up — probably to get past some 
bad knots near the base, and I blessed him as I made a run for it and 
quickly clambered up. Here I stayed for fully two hours, while the herd 
walked around and around that stump champing their teeth till great clots 
of foam hung from their mouths. And what made me hot was that even 
the young ones only a third grown were just as bad as the old ones. Some- 
one will say, "Why didn't you shoot?" The answer is, "Because I didn't 
want to stay on that stump all night." 

One shot and one squealing hog and the rest would have spent the night 
and perhaps all next day trying to get at me. When they finally, find- 
ing me so still, trailed off, I made a bee line for camp, only too glad to get 

But these wild hogs were of great value in ridding this country of 
rattlesnakes. While a deer would kill any rattlesnake that it found coiled 
up, by jumping into its coil and spreading its four feet like a flash, thus 
cutting it to pieces, the hogs would keep after them all the time. Any 
kind of a snake was fair prey for the hogs, and they were immune from 
poison. Many a hunter has seen fights between wild hogs and rattlesnakes 
in which the latter always fell victims and were eaten up by the victors. 

But wild hog was never considered a very satisfying dish by our pio- 
neers. At various times the younger wild hogs were caught by the dogs and 
brought to the clearings where they were penned up and fed com in order 
to try to do away with the "wild" taste of the meat. But most of these 
attempts were unsuccessful. The young porkers seemed to have inherited 
a natural wildness and would gnaw at their frail pens till they got out. 
Many of them would actually refuse food, or take so little that they would 
never grow fat. The old term razor-back applied to these wild hogs. 
There are many of them in the woods of the south to this day. 

How often have we heard that old old story told to the children "and 
a big bear came and ate him up." As other game has been spoken pi so 
freely, the bear — not a ferocious wild beast, but a good article of food — 
ought to have his share. 

Out west they have the grizzly, silver-tip and cinnamon bear, but in 
this country the only bear was the black bear. Black and glossy in winter 
when his fur was in condition, and a dirty brown in summer. 

He was one of the most inoffensive of animals. Give him wild honey, 
roasting ears and plenty of berries and he would never go near a settle- 
ment. When hungry in winter he might carry off a shoat or a lamb, or, if 


he found a small child alone in the woods, he might take it, not knowing 
what it was. 

Give him a chance and he would slink into the undergrowth and paddle 
away as fast as possible. Even when wounded, he would still try to get 
away. A crippled bear was not as bad as a crippled deer, for there are 
two instances of where bucks have been hit, and ran awhile and then came 
back to fight. Near Newberg one jumped into the road and gored two 
oxen in a wagon very badly, and though there were three men in the wagon 
they could not beat it off till it had done much damage. 

A hunter shot another buck this side of Newburg and hitched his 
horse while he followed it on foot. It circled back and attacked the horse 
cutting it so badly in the abdomen that it had to be killed. So much for deer. 

But the only time to beware of a bear was when an old she bear's cubs 
were hurt. She might be with two cubs, and she would try to get away, and 
if the hunter killed one, she would leave with the other. But let one 
be only crippled and begin to "squall" and she would come back ready to 
fight to the death. 

So in stealing cubs, if only one was taken, the old bear did not seem to 
know the difference, but if both were stolen she would follow up the scent 
till she found them and be just as ready to fight for them. 






While Hugh McGary was without doubt the first man to settle on the 
site of the city of Evansville, he was not the first one who really located 
here for a time. 

But the first man was a wanderer and he went where trade was the 
best. History tells us that at least ten years before McGary decided to 
build his cabin, one Pierre Brouillette came down from "the falls," now- 
known as Louisville. Ky., and tied up at the bank of Pigeon Creek. 

At this time the Shawnees were camping here, trapping and fishing, 
and they occupied the land from the creek clear up to the present Boule- 
vard. This, with the exception of a few gullies, was a perfectly level pla- 
teau. At that time Pigeon Creek was a small river and Sweezer pond quite 
a lake. (In after years Mrs. Sweezer. a widow, used to run a ferry at the 
mouth of the creek.) 

Learning that the Shawnees not only had plenty of pelts, but could get 
them almost as fast as they needed them, Brouillette decided to locate here, 
and for four years he ran the first store. He carried in stock almost noth- 
ing except old flint-lock guns, cheap blankets, beads, tobacco and whiskey, 
and of this latter he sold great quantities. 

As it is known that the partially civilized Indian of today will almost 
barter his soul for whiskey, some idea may be had of the profits of this 
shrewd trader. But as Brouilette never built a house or located any 
land, but lived on his boat during his residence here, he is not entitled to 
any honor in the history of Evansville. 

A writer who tried to trace up his wanderings says of him : 

"Peddling out fire-water to the Shawnees of this day was an avocation 
which required level judgment and when they became troublesome, ex- 
tremely quick action. 

"For about four years Brouillette carried on his business with the In- 
dians. From time to time demand for his goods made it necessary' for him 
to go to Louisville to replenish his stock. He would then dispose of the 


furs which he had accumulated during the interim. In those days of lim- 
ited transportation facilities a trip to Louisville was no small undertaking 
and required three or four days of travel. Brouillette usually made his 
journey on horseback, leading several other animals heavily laden with the 
results of his trading. On the return trip the horses would be still more 
heavily loaded. It is related of him that he often carried several kegs of 
whiskey on horseback, one balancing the other on either side and the whole 
secured by a stout strap. 

"Sometimes his red-skinned friends required his supplies with greater 
celerity than the tedious trip to Louisville permitted. Then he would 
hurry to Vincennes and return quickly with enough goods to supply the 
pressing demands of the moment. On one of these trips Brouillette met 
General Washington Johnson, a prominent figure of that day and he gave 
Johnson such an enticing account of his business inevestment that Johnson 
was induced to make the journey southward for the purpose of viewing the 

"When he visited Brouillette he found the lands in that part of the 
country had just been surveyed and were coming into the market. The 
surveyors had completed their work in the territory now comprising Van- 
berburg county in the fall of 1806 and upon his return to Vincennes, Mr. 
Johnson promptly secured title to the tract which seemed to be the pros- 
pective seat of industry in the new section of country. Whether he con- 
templated the inauguration of a town on the Ohio is not known and if so it 
is not known why he failed to take steps in that direction or to locate other 
tracts of land contiguous to the purchase he made in 1807. 

"Some years afterward, Mr. Johnson told a friend that he had missed 
a rare opportunity for a paying investment when Evansville came into being 
at a point less than a mile from the old Brouillette boat landing. 

"The exact time when Brouillette left his trading post at the mouth of 
Pigeon Creek is not known. The advent of the surveying corps appears to 
have broken up the Shawnee village and although at periods far apart por- 
tions of the tribe appeared in the vicinity there was not enough of an In- 
dian settlement to make the bartering profitable. Pierre Brouillette went 
away. Whither, no one seemed to know. He had relatives at Vincennes, 
but inquiry among them at a much later date failed to bring to light any 
information concerning his history or his wanderings." 

Reverting to McGary, I am able to give the following facts : He was of 
Irish and not Scotch parentage. If he had been Scotch, he would have 
spelled his name MacGary. He first lived in Kentucky where he fought 
Indians side by side with Boone, Todd, Trigg, Harlan, Estill, Logan and 
the other brave fighters of the Dark and Bloody Ground. 

He went to Post Saint \'incent to the treaty, and, starting back with his 
brothers to his Kentucky home, he took the old Indian trail which came 
through what is now known as Stringtown. This brought him through the 
dense woods to what is now the foot of Main street. His destination was 


"The Red Banks" (Henderson, Ky.). He was so much impressed with 
Indiana that he came back and settled in Gibson county, but, still thinking 
of the great Ohio River and its possibilities, he moved here and built his 
first house. 

It is but just to say, that a log house had been built here some years 
before at the mouth of Pigeon Creek, but the most diligent search fails to 
show who built it. It consisted of only one room, the logs were not even 
smoothed by the axe, and the roof was held on by poles, as saplings were 
called. It stood many years and was finally washed away in a spring 

McGary, however, had an eye to something better, and his house, while 
only one story, consisted of two rooms and a hall between ; in other words 
it was a double log cabin. 

The average city bred reader can have no idea of the primitiveness of 
the tools used in the early architecture of Evansville. 

Only three were needed — an axe, an augur and a cross-cut saw. And 
even the latter was a sort of luxury, and in many cases several families 
combined and traded enough pelts to purchase a saw, which was used in 
turn by the joint owners. As a matter of fact many houses were built 
with only an axe and an augur. The augur was straight and had a long and 
very strong handle. As a rule the logs were put into the house "in the 
rough" i. e. without any attempt to smooth them, but those who had any 
pride hewed their logs smooth on one side or both, and if they had a saw 
they sawed the ends so as to make smooth corners. But the poor fellow 
who had no saw, or no neighbor from whom he could borrow, simply left 
the corners rough. 

The logs of McGary's house were smootlied inside and out, and notched 
so that they set in nicely. The gaps between the logs were filled with dried 
grass and mud. This was called "chinking," and to say that a man lived in 
a cabin that "wasn't even chinked," was to pronounce him a lazy kind of 
fellow, for mud and grass were plenty. 

The roof was of slabs, laid much as shingles are, and held in place by 
long poles, which in turn were held by stones at each end. At the end of 
each room was an enormous chimney, large enough for a half-grown child 
to stand in. This was built on the outside and made of split sticks plastered 
inside and out and between each layer with mud. In fact the chimney was 
really of mud and the sticks held it in place. These chimneys soon har- 
dened, and it is wonderful how they lasted. Many a time in hunting I have 
run across these old cabins with their chimneys almost as good as the day 
they were built. The only doors in the building faced each other across 
the open hall. 

There were only two windows in the house, one in the front of each 
cabin and they were only as large as the space cut out of two logs. There 
was no glass but there were very strong shutters which fastened by bars 


And how did the doors work? Who has not heard the expression "the 
latch string is out." But how many of my readers ever stopped to think 
how the expression originated? 

Inside each door was a heavy wooden latch which fitted into a slot. 
Just above the latch was an augur hole, and through it a deer skin thong 
fastened to it, could be hung outside. If it hung outside it meant "Come 
in and welcome," but if the door was shut and the thong pulled inside, it 
behooved the visitor to tell very plainly who he was before he could hope 
to enter. 

In each corner of the sleeping room were the beds. These were made 
by driving saplings into augur holes in the wall and fastening them at the 
corner with hickory withes. Across the poles slabs were laid and pegged 
down and on them were home made mattresses of dried grass, or filled with 
the feathers of wild geese and ducks. 

Sheets were rare, but quilts were plenty, and were a source of great 
pride to the pioneer women. If they were alive today they would be horri- 
fied to see the scraps of ribbons, old dresses, etc., that the average house- 
keeper throws into the fire as useless. To them they would be rare treas- 
ures, to be brought out with pride at the first "quiltin' bee" for they kept 
every little faded scrap, from the men's pants to the little girls' worn-out 
calico dresses, and all were worked into quilts of gorgeous patterns. 

Sometimes when the family was large, a sort of loft of strong poles was 
built, and the children and sometimes "the stranger within the gates" re- 
tired by way of a light ladder. 

It would be wrong to leave this subject without telling of the ways of 
the first Indiana mothers. 

Their household implements were few. Their brooms were made by 
shaving down a hickory pole with a knife or axe, and then pulling down 
the little strips in a bunch and fastening them with the ever-ready hickory 
withe. Their cooking utensils were an iron pot which hung on a "crane" 
in the big fire place, and a "spider." This latter was a simple heavy frying 
pan or skillet with a heavy iron lid. on which coals could be heaped. 

I myself have eaten many a time when deer hunting where the entire 
meal was cooked in the "spider." First the coffee was browned in it, then 
the game was broiled, and after that was set aside, the spider was quickly 
cleaned and the com pone or "warm white bread" was hastily baked in it. 

The children were always expected to wait; in fact there were hardly 
ever dishes enough to go around. 

I have read many alleged accounts of how the old hoosiers talked. 
Some of them took the form of stories, but they were rarely true to life. 
They had a language all their own, though many idioms they brought with 
them from the Kentucky country, and I will try to give a few examples 
which I know are reli'able for in my youth my happiest days were spent 
with these old settlers and their descendants. 


If a rider or driver came up to the horse-block, his usual announcement 
was "hello, the house." This brought all the dogs to the front, and the lady 
of the house would come to the door, and if she knew the visitor, would 
say "light and come in." This of course meant "alight" or "get down," 
but "light" was considered the very acme of politeness. 

In the meantime she brought a chair or stool and after carefully dust- 
ing it with her apron (for it would be bad form indeed not to show this 
mark of respect) she placed it before the fire. 

Of course the conversation was limited. There were no topics save the 
poor little details of their small clearings. 

Strange to say, the average mother always told with pride how "bad" 
her child was, and if the visitor was shrewd he always said that he "al- 
lowed" her little Billy was the "wust young 'un in the settlement" — with 
the accent on "ment." 

And then the proud mother would say "I allow to git me a bresh (piece 
of brushwood) some day and jist lay it on him till he squalls like a painter 

Nobody "knew" or "supposed" anything; they "allowed." 

No modest woman ever spoke of a muscular man as "strong." To her 
such a term would mean that he gave out an effluvia. Oh, no, he was 
"stout." A creek was a "crick." A man might "kill" a bear or some wild 
animal, but he "hung up" a deer. "Up yanways" meant up the road, or up 
in some other direction. 

Marks of a stray horse or wild animal were "sign." A "deer scrape" 
was where a buck had rubbed its "velvet" on small bushes, and a "turkey 
scrape" was where wild turkeys had scratched. 

One could "tree" a coon or "shine" a deer at night. A possum that pre- 
tended to be dead "suUed." 

To "pull yer weasel-skin" meant take out your pocket book. A midwife 
was a "granny." To say that a young man was "ficety," meant that he put 
on airs. There was never interest on a note; it was "intrust." A spotted 
cow or hog was "pieded." 

There were no pants, trousers or pantaloons ; men wore "britches" and 
"gallusses" (suspenders). Tobacco simply twisted was "long green," while 
plug tobacco was "store terbacker." 

One did not chew; he "chawed." A "log rollin" was when the neigh- 
bors all gathered to roll up the logs on a clearing into pyramids so ^hat 
they might easily burn. A "house raisin" was when they came to help the 
young settler roll up his house timbers into place, and a "house warmin" 
was where all came bringing some little thing from their scanty store to 
start the young couple to housekeeping. 

A strange thing was the use of the word "critter" and "brute." A man 
bought a "horse critter," or saw a stray "cow brute." A child was given 
a small branch of wood at the table and told to "mind" the flies. An "eaves- 
drapper" was the meanest of creatures. A man who was thinking deeply, 

Evansville's First Lot Sale 

(From handbill in possession of Sebastian Henric-h> 


THE sale of l,ots in (lie Town of Evansville, will take place on Wednesday 
find riiursdiiy tlie 37th and 28' h of Ma> next, when purchasers can have a 
credit of » L^ t'i Months, hy giving Bond with approved security, &? on Friday 
the syth of May, the building of a public Jail, in the baid town will be let to the 
lowesii bidder. 

This town is so well known as a place of Landing and deposit for the wc3« 
(eni |)art oJ the State of Indiana, that any particujjr description of the place 
is deemed unnecessary. Suffice it to say, that tliis town has lately been esia- 
blishid as the permanent seal of Justice of Vanderburgh County, and certainly 
holds out a fairer prospect to become a considerable Commercial town, than 
any other in the western part of the Slate. — Merchants, Mcchanicks and men 
of enterprise are particularly invited to come and judge for themselves. 

DANL. MILLER, :figentfor 

April S8th, (818. Vanderburgh County. 

Frinkd at the Office of the Western Sun—Vincenmi.: 


was "progikin." To feel a little sick, was to feel "daunchy." The word 
"puny" was also in general use and simply meant that a man or woman 
couldn't work all day like a horse. 

The above is only a specimen of what was known as the backwoods 
tongue. Of course the cultivated men who came here from the east did 
not use it, but I am speaking of the natives. 

Oh! those pioneer mothers! No feeble pen can ever give them their 
due meed of praise. They were the mothers of real men. No work too 
hard, no privation too great. If the men were away, they did not hesitate 
to take the axe and chop their own wood. In clearing up the land they 
worked side by side with their sturdy husbands and sons. 

Their charity was great. No thought of self ever entered their hearts. 
Let it be known that a neighbor was sick and a walk of miles through the 
trackless woods to help minister to the afflicted was no task to them. 

And to them the ties of blood meant something. Let a man be of their 
"kin" and the whole world might turn against him, yet they would be true. 
They would forgive any deed, and set themselves as a shield between him 
and his enemies. 

Their modesty was as great as their goodness. No man dared to tell a 
"risque" story when the "women folks" were around. Tales that pass 
current in fashionable drawmg rooms today, would be met by a burst of 
virtuous indignation by the women of the olden time. And yet their ideas 
were strange. A mother would nurse her babe before a dozen men and 
think nothing of it, yet she would draw down her poor dress till not even 
her shoes were exposed. 

Hers was the true hospitality. Let a lost stranger come at any hour 
of the night and she would only too gladly leave her warm bed to get him 
"a bite to eat" and a good cup of cofiFee. To do less would be to break a 
law handed down by her ancestors. And in the morning, long ere day, she 
would be up and ready with a hot breakfast, so that he might lose no time. 
If he offered to pay, she would spurn it and say "I reckon you'd a done the 
same for me or my old man." And when her neighbors came, to let them 
go without a meal was something unknown to her and her methods. 
Every poor dish was brought out and her little store of sweetmeats was 
ravished, but when she said, after the last touch, "draw up yer cheers and 
help yourselves. We aint got much, but sech as it is, you're mighty wel- 
come," she meant it. Yes, from the bottom of her great, generous heart, 
and not to have done ample justice to the meal would have hurt her 

On her shoulders fell all of the household work. Each little piece of 
all worn out garments would be carefully cut into strips and the ends 
sewed together. Then when large enough to make a "carpet ball" it was 
carefully stowed away pending the time when she could have made a little 
carpet or rug to put upon the barren floor. 


She it was who took the big pumpkins and cut them as one cuts a water- 
melon, into round slices, and when a pole was run throug them (for who 
could afford twine) they were fastened by little strips of deer hide up 
along the rafters. The red peppers were strung and fastened up. The nuts 
of various kinds were strewn on the loft floor and the sassafras roots were 
gathered in season and carefully put away. She and her little ones gath- 
ered the wild grapes, and the papaws and persimmons, and the first May 

To her the dense woods were full of treasures, even to the slippery elm 
bark. And if one were sick, she alone knew how to take nature's own 
primitive roots and herbs and concoct healing and soothing medicines. 

She believed her husband to be the best man living; her children tha 
sweetest and best ever born, and her "kin" incapable of doing wrong. She 
was good and sweet and true. God bless her memory. 

An item in a recent issue of the Courier goes to show how closely the 
pioneer mother stayed at home. 

It was not that their minds were not bright and active, but it was sim- 
ply their way of living. To them their own hearthstones were the sweetest 
places on earth, and just so "the folks kept well" and there was plenty to 
eat, plenty of warmth, and a near neighbor to drop in to chat while they 
both sat knitting (for to be idle was a crime) they cared little for the doings 
of the great outside world. And who shall say they were not the happier 
for it? 

The Courier says: 

"Although she had lived within 20 miles of Evansville for 71 years, 
Mrs. F. M. Stallings, Posey County, yesterday visited Evansville for the 
first time and among other things had her first sight of a street car and 
an automobile. There were many other things, too, that she witnessed for 
the first time, such things as were never to be seen in the vicinity of their 
little farm in the adjacent county. 

"Mr. and Mrs. Stallings were here yesterday paying their respects to 
their daughter, Mrs. George W. Hunter, Eighth and Locust streets, and 
left in the afternoon for a few days' visit with a son in Eckerty, Crawford 

"Mr. Stallings had not been in Evansville since 1866 and the tremendous 
strides the city had taken filled him with wonder. 

"Sitting near a window in her daughter's home, Mrs. Stallings saw a 
street car whizz by on Eighth street. She figuratively rubbed her eyes to 
see if she was awake and then looking saw it far up the avenue. 'How 
does the thing run?' she asked her daughter. Tt has no horses pulling it 
nor anyone pushing it?' An auto moving by brought even greater ex- 
pressions of astonishment from the elderly lady. 'What won't they do 
next !' was her only means of venting her wonder. 

"The couple will stop off here the middle of next week on their way 
home and Mr. and Mrs. Hunter are planning an educational trip through 


the city for their benefit. Moving picture shows, the large manufacturing 
plants and other results of the last century's inventive genius will be in- 
troduced to them." 

The Courier also speaks of two other old citizens : 

"Thomas Scantlin of this city, the oldest man in Vanderburg county 
and probably the only surviving person who carried an advertisement in 
the first edition of the Courier, published in 1845, will before the summer 
passes celebrate his 96th birthday. Nearly 90 of these 96 years have been 
spent in Evansville and there is probably no man in this city who is able 
to recall so much of the early history of Evansville as Mr. Stantlin. 

"When barely six years of age he came here in about 1820, the limits 
of the village extended only from Sycamore to Walnut and from Water to 
Third streets. His present residence at 512 Upper Third street he built 
in 1841. At 34 Sycamore street he constructed the first three-story build- 
ing in the city. It was a brick business house and still stands. 

"Mr. Scantlin was present at the beginning of the construction of the 
old Wabash & Erie canal, when General Robert M. Evans turned the first 
shovel of dirt. The ceremonies were followed by a banquet and dance. 

"In 1836 he became engaged in the tin business and it was the advertise- 
ment of this enterprise that appeared in the Courier of 1845. ^^i"- Scant- 
lin was married in 1840 to Ellen Jane Parvin, the niece of General Evans, 
after whom the city was named. 

"Captain P. G. O'Riley, who arrived here in 1843. embarked in the first 
wharfboat business in Evansville which under his guiding influence grew to 
be the largest enterprise of its kind between Pittsburg and New Orleans. 

"During the twenty years of his residence here, Captain O'Riley was 
known the length of the river for his philanthropies. He erected the first 
hospital where contagious diseases were treated and personally met the 
expenses of the institution until the community awakening to the burden 
he was carrying, took it from his shoulders. 

"Captain O'Riley was one of the first promoters of the old Wabash 
& Erie canal, which was completed in 1853. The first boat upon its waters 
was called in his honor. 'The P. G. O'Riley.' In 1863 he left Evansville for 
New Orleans to engage in the commission business. His trip to that city 
was made upon the first steamboat to reach New Orleans after the fall of 

"New Orleans was visited by an epidemic of yellow fever in 1873 ^""^ 
Captain O'Riley fell a victim to the dread disease." 

One of the great necessities of the early day was salt. Without it no 
pioneer family could hope to get along. 

There are people now living here who remember Cook's Park as the 
salt well. In the early days a spring existed near the bank of the creek 
at the northwest corner of the park. For years this water was boiled and 
produced a fair article of salt, but as it failed to produce enough for the 


needs of all it was dug deeper and somehow the vein was spoiled, the 
water becoming brackish. 

After that the settlers used to go in little bands to the Saline banks 
near Shawneetown, which had long been used by the Indians. They would 
boil out their salt and bring it home in sacks on their shoulder^ or on what 
few horses were owned here. 

At that time the only wagon owned here belonged to Adam Fickas, who 
lived above the site of this city near Newburg, which first went by the 
name of Sprinklesburg. He was always ready to lend this to his neigh- 
bors, till a man named Hayden began to make yearly trips here with a 
trading boat. Corn and coon skins were a legal tender so to speak. 

Corn was worth twenty-five cents per bushel delivered at the boat and 
coon skins twenty-five cents each. 

And, by the way, it was many a year before coon skins ceased to be an 
important factor in trading. 

My father settled here in 1850, and many a time I've seen the little 
Green River boats bring him cargoes made up almost entirely of these skins. 
And even in those days of cheap pelts, a mink skin was worth two to three 
dollars and an otter skin much more. 

All wheat that was raised in the early days was threshed out by horses. 
The shocks were cut and laid on the ground in a circle and the horses 
walked over them, around and around. Of course they were laid on very 
hard ground, so that the grains would not sink in. It is wonderful how 
clean they kept. After the shocks were well threshed, the straw was pulled 
away, and what chaff was left was fanned off by wild turkey wings and 
tails. I have seen this done myself on the farm of David Weller, Sr., back 
of Henderson, where I used to hunt when a boy. The corn was shelled by 
hand, and there was a rude crusher near Newburg which was patronized 
by people here before Anthony built his mill on Pigeon Creek, out on the 
Stringtown road. (This was afterwards the old Negley mill. I have often 
fished at the dam when a boy, but the mill at that time, though afterwards 
rebuilt by another party, had fallen into decay.) 

Still there were those who could hardly afiford to pay a miller's toll 
and they crushed their corn by fastening an iron wedge to a limber pole 
and banging the wedge up and down in a hollow in a stone that would hold 
little more than two ears of corn at a time. This was almost as primitive 
as the old Indian way. 

Perhaps the question may be asked if our pioneers had no nails, with 
very little iron and no blacksmith's shops, how did they perform their agri- 
cultural duties. In the first place, the plow used in those days was all in 
one piece. The plowshare, point and bar. It was fastened by one bolt 
through the plowsheath to the top of the beam and that was the only piece 
of iron about the plow. But this primitive plow cost far more in those 
days than the very best plow of the present. The moldboard was of the 
best hardwood usually white oak. Best oak was also used. This mold- 


board was dressed down to the proper shape and then put in the corner 
of the big fireplace to dry and after being thoroughly dry, could be pol- 
ished as smooth as any of the steel plows of today. The harrows were 
made entirely of wood. They used either slippery elm or iron wood for the 
A harrow, sloping the side pieces out one end and fastening them at the 
apex with a peg. A cross piece was then placed about the middle of the 
harrow and also fastened with pegs. The universal auger then came into 
play and holes were made, into which pegs were driven for the pins of the 
harrow. They were made of dry hickory and it is astonishing how long 
they would last. They used both single and double trees in those days but 
instead of iron to hold the harness everything was fastened with hickory 
withes. These trees were not e.xpected to last more than one season, but 
it took only a short time to make them. The horse collars were of course 
made of corn shucks, fastened together with leather thongs and the roll of 
the collar was made by sewing on another layer of corn shucks, so that the 
hames would fit tight. They also made collars of raw hide, cutting them in 
the proper shape the same as the modem collar, sewing up the edges and 
filling them with deer hair, bear's hair or any material of that kind. They 
also made a combination by pounding up ash timber very fine and mixing it 
with deer hair and this was really a better material for a filler than the ex- 
celsior that is used today. All bridles were made of raw hide. They used 
for a bit, a hickory withe, fastening a ring to each end and for the balance 
of the bridle this bit was then covered with raw hide, so that the horse 
could not chew it. The Indians use that bit at the present and as the In- 
dians had no horses until the advent of civilization, they of course got this 
idea from old pioneers. Hames were made out of roots, the maker select- 
ing roots that would conform to the shape of a horse's shoulder. The 
holes for the hames were burned through with an iron rod and fastened by 
leather thugs. There were no hame hooks such as we attach tugs to at the 
present day, but in their stead two very strong pieces of raw hide passed 
through burned holes in the hames. The wagons were of course very 
primitive and made wheels were unknown. The fore wheels were usually 
made by sawing circular boards from black gum. The four-inch hole was 
made in the middle for the a.xles. They used a hickory withe in holes 
burned at the end of the axles. These wagons were generally too heavy 
for horses and oxen was generally used for them. The ox yoke was also 
made without a particle of iron. The bows were passed up through burned 
holes in the yoke and held up by withes and the very large ring through 
which the wagon tongue passed was also made of very strong hickory. Of 
course a great deal of grease was put on these axles to make them run 
easily, but they made so much noise that the approach of a wagon could 
sometimes be told nearly a mile away. Pitch forks were simple saplings 
with the bark peeled off and the ends pointed. Sometimes the antlers of a 
deer were driven through burned holes and securely fastened and used 
instead of forked saplings. Rakes were of course of wood, with the ends 


of deer horns for the teeth. The spade was made of hickory properly 
seasoned and was fully polished and even oiled and lasted a long time. 
Of course every one owned a sled. Clumsily made but good not only in 
winter but in the early spring and late fall, when the ground was moist 
and it is remarkable to know how easily these crude vehicles would run 
when once they were worn smooth. 





It was a gala day for Evansville when the first stage coach to enter the 
village jolted over the rough road which led through the main thorough- 
fare of the town and drew up in front of this two-story log house, the 
tavern of Ansel Wood. The arrival of the mail with its news of the outside 
world was an event of importance to the community and was sufficient jus- 
tification for every one to leave their work to welcome with hearty hand- 
shakes and eager questions each passenger as he stepped from the vehicle 

Willis Howe, one of the pioneer settlers of Gibson county, who for 
more than fifty years lived in the immediate vicinity of Evansville, rode 
into town from Princeton, Ind., on the first stage coach to traverse the 
highway between Vincennes and Evansville having charge of the United 
States mail on the trip. Some time before his death, Mr. Howe described 
the appearance of Main street as he saw it when he entered the village that 
day, riding on the driver's seat, holding the reins while the jehu in charge 
of the outfit, announced to the eager inhabitants the advent of a mail stage 
within the precincts of the city, by blowing lustily upon a squeaky old 
stage horn. 

"The street or road," Mr. Howe says, "was pretty well chopped through 
the timber to a point about three blocks northeast of the court house, then 
a new brick building, and for two or three blocks the newly made stumps 
stood so thickly over the surface that only a meandering wagon way marked 
the line of travel into the town. From Pigeon creek to the village the road- 
way was indicated by a succession of notched trees, but travelers obeyed 
their own sweet will by driving wherever there was sufficient opening be- 
tween the timber for the passage of a wagon and enough soil above tha 
nearly continuous frog pond to make manifest that the timber annually grew 
out of the earth. Arrived in town the stage coach halted in front of the 
tavern of Ansel Wood, a two-story log house located between Second and 
Third streets, half a square from the court house, almost in front of the 
frame dwelling of Captain Newman that seemed to be the most pretentious 
edifice in Evansville. Nearly all the population of the town appeared to 


have turned out to greet the advent of the stage coach which had been ex- 
pected and was an occasion of great local importance." 

"In front of the tavern," said Mr. Howe, "there were at least two large 
stumps that had been especially cared for, having iron rings at the top and 
were utilized by the frequenters of the house for hitching posts." 

Later on I will speak of the old stage lines. I knew the drivers of 
many of them and would often ride out a few miles with them and walk 

Mr. Tall Clark has celebrated his golden wedding since this work was 
begun. He came from England in 1851. 

When he was twenty-one years old, in 1859, he became a member of 
the old Evansville fire department. He was stationed at the fire house that 
stood where the post office is now. When there was a fire the big bell 
was rung and all of the citizens ran to the hose house and went with the 
firemen to the fire where they formed a bucket brigade. Mr. Clark saw 
the pump wagons come into use. The handles were worked by two fire- 
men and only a small stream was thrown. 

Mr. Clark became a stage coach driver, driving the stage coach which 
ran between Evansville and Mt. Vernon. There were no Indians and bears 
in these parts in those times but nevertheless, the life of a stage coach 
driver was extremely fascinating. Time after time Mr. Clark was com- 
pelled to drive miles out of the direct route to avoid murderous bands of 
robbers who intended to waylay the coach and hold up the passengers and 
the United States mail that was carried by the coach. Many times Mr. 
Clark shot deer from the top of the coach. 

The first real store started in Evansville was run by Wm. McKnitt in 
a small house built by Hugh McGary. He was the father of Mrs. James 
Steele, who for many years ran a planing mill here. Mrs. McKnitt was 
a sister O'f Benoni Stinson, who had a farm below town in 1812. 

The second store was opened by a Frenchman, who shortly sold out 
to a Mr. Armstrong. He in turn sold out to the Lewis Bros., who for 
many years were identified with this city. Many remember Mrs. Octavia 
Lewis. It is sad to think that of this old family, and of the two brothers, 
the only living descendent is Dr. H. A. Lewis, who married Miss Mary 

At these stores litle money ever passed over the counter. Coon skins 
were almost a legal tender, the price being twenty-five cents for "winter 
fur" while a "summer' coon" was of little value and had no fixed price. 
Bear skins, wolf skins and wood were regular articles of barter. And this 
was in 1812, yet so many were the wild animals in this section that I saw 
store keepers as late as 1856 bring down fur out of Green River and with 
not one cent of money buy a stock of groceries from the late Samuel E. 
Gilbert, who established the first exclusively wholesale grocery here in 




The first attorney to come to this city was Amos Clark, who located in 
1814. Daniel Warner, appointed by James Monroe, was the first post- 
master in 1819. 

In 1820 it was decided to elect a board of Town Trustees and the fol- 
lowing were successful; John M. Dunham, Dan F. Goldsmith, Prestley 
Prichett, Wm. Mills, Jr., and Jno. A. Chandler, the founder of the Chandler 
family. James A. Boiss was secretary and Alanson Warner treasurer. 

By this time Evansville had become recognized as a town with a future 
and the rich country back of the river was gradually taken up and cleared 
into small farms. General Evans in 1824 brought many good farmers from 
New Harmony and artisans who begun to settle here had their hands full 
making tools. Of course steam power was almost unknown and wind or 
water power was used, but it may be said that the early privation was over. 
It was in 1820 that Jno. S. Hopkins, a beloved and respected citizen for 
many long years, first came here as a school boy. Many years ago he sent 
east for an artist and had a picture of this city painted as it looked when 
he first saw it. 

He simply sketched the outlines from memory and then had them 
painted in, as he stood over the work. This picture is in possession of his 
son, and gladly would this work produce it, but Mr. Hopkins has refused to 
allow it to be copied, to so many, that he was obliged to refuse the writer — 
an old schoolmate. 

Mr. Hopkins however gladly gave a history of this place as he had 
gleaned it from his father, as follows : 

"In 1820 the town extended on the river front from Oak street to 
Division street and ran back from the river only three or four squares. In 
fact the buildings off Water, Main and First streets were few in number. 

"On the river side of Water street at the crossing of Oak street stood 
a two-story white frame residence which was for many years the home of 
Robert Barnes. It was built by Elisha Harrison, an early resident, and 
one of the contractors who built the first court house. In its day the Harri- 
son residence was a frequent meeting place of the elite of the city's society. 

"Jay Moorehouse, a prominent citizen of the time, and a Whig politician 
of considerable note, resided on the west corner of First and Cherry streets. 
His daughter, Maria Moorehouse, was the belle of the city. On the oppo- 
site corner, across First street, stood a commodious one-story frame dwell- 
ing, which was the property of Dr. Richardson, one of the early physicians 
of the town. William Caldwell, otherwise called "Old Partner," lived in 
this house. 

"A two-story frame house, the home of Asaph Chandler, the father of 
William H. and John J. Chandler, who were well known to all old residents 
as among the most progressive citizens, stood on the upper corner of Water 
and Chestnut streets. The north corner of Chestnut and Second streets was 
occupied by a substantial two-story structure, the home of the grandfather 


of Colonel Jackson McClain, for many years an honored citizen of Hen- 
derson, Ky. 

"Just above the corner of Walnut and Riverside avenue, where the resi- 
dence of the late Mrs. Mary Stephens now stands, there was a one-story 
house with a porch in front. It was known as the ferry house and here 
hung a bell upon a strong upright pole. For many years the ringing of this 
bell served to call the ferryman from his home on the Kentucky side. The 
house was built by Benjamin Jefferson, an early resident, partly in a ravine, 
so that the rear part was erected upon pilings before the spot was filled in. 

"Fronting on Water street between Walnut and Locust, was located the 
home of John Zimmerman, Evansville's third postmaster and later county 
clerk of Vanderburg County. Adjoining this was a very small one-story 
building, where a Mr. Crock well kept a bakery. On the next lot below, still 
fronting on Water street was the home of James W. Jones, one of Mc- 
Gary's colleagues in the original booming of the site. 

"At the upper corner of Locust and Water streets stood a two-story 
building, built by Elisha Harrison, in which a store and tavern was kept. 
When Edward Hopkins came to Evansville in 1820 he became the proprie- 
tor of this establishment. After Mr. Hopkins the place was continued as 
a tavern by John O'Connor. Where the St. George is now located stood a 
large one-story dwelling with long porches facing on both streets. In 1820 
it was the residence of Amos Clark, one of the able lawyers of the period, 
but he afterward disposed of the property to John Shanklin. One of the 
oldest structures in the town stood at the comer of Locust and Water 
streets, a log house occupied by the firm of Jones & Harrison, who were 
later succeeded by Shanklin & Moffitt, and they still later by Shanklin & 
Johnson. Where the Orpheum theater now stands, stood a two-story log 
house with a frame addition in the rear, (towards the river) wherein Al- 
fred O. Warner kept tavern. Major Alanson Warner succeeded his 
brother and the log tavern gave way to a two-story brick hotel called the 
Mansion house. This was the first brick hotel in the town. 

"On the present location of the First National Bank building, Main and 
First streets, stood the residence of Dr. Seaman and on the next lot toward 
the Warner tavern, there was a two-story building known as the 'Warner 
Den' where the dissolute young men of the village congregated for a hand 
at cards and from the nightly carousals there the place received its un- 
desirable name. The blacksmith shop of Colonel Seth Fairchild stood on 
the corner of Third and Locust streets and in the same block ornamenting 
the crest of a small hill stood a two-story frame dwelling built by William 
R. McGary and occupied by Captain James Newman and family. It was 
one of the most aristocratic homes in the city and was the scene of much 
princely hospitality. Later on when Captain Newman was elected sheriff, 
defeating Jay Moorehouse, a crowd of the victor's friends got out a can- 
non and several pieces of a brass band with the view of showing the cap- 


tain their appreciation. He took them all into the house and seated them 
at the best spread the city would admit in those early days. 

"The structures below Main street in the early days were of even more 
business importance than those above. At the corner of Main and Water 
streets there was a two-story building where William and James Lewis 
kept a miscellaneous store, dealing in about all the ware, solid and liquid, 
sold in Evansville in that period. It was the principal store of the town 
for a number of years. On Main street near where the Old National bank 
building now stands was the warehouse of Colonel Hugh McGary, a place 
of real importance in the pioneer days. Here the Hon. Isaac Blackford 
held the first court in Vanderburg County with William Wagnon and John 
McCray serving as associate judges. In the same rooms the county com- 
missioners held their sessions. Traveling ministers making their regular 
rounds held church in the old warehouse when it was convenient. Later 
the firm of Bement & Viele opened a wholesale grocery in the warehouse, 
doing a thriving business there for many years. 

"At a still later date the old structure was moved to Sycamore street 
between Fourth and Fifth streets, where it was utilized for a long time by 
John Garisk for pork packing. 

"The first jail erected in Vanderburg County stood on the north corner 
of the public square at the intersection of Main and Third streets. The con- 
tract for its erection was let to Hugh McGary in 1818. It was built of 
white oak timber one foot square, double thickness, the logs being bolted 
together with iron rods. These timbers stood upright and extended into 
the ground three feet below the lower floor. It was twelve feet square in 
the clear. 

"The historic log house of Hugh McGary was situated on Water street 
on the second lot below Main street. It was the first house built in the 
town, was constructed of hewn logs and was 38x18 feet in dimensions. A 
two-story frame building, the property of Andrew Graham, occupied the 
location near the corner of Sycamore and Second. This property after- 
ward passed into the possession of the Catholic church and upon it the 
first church of that denomination was erected. The Grand opera house 
now stands on this site. J_X55G23 

"Where Division street runs down to the river, stood a grove of elm 
trees. When the wharf was graded, these trees with one exception were 
cut down. Many years later the famous old elm, for it was under this tree 
that many old citizens believe that Hugh McGary drew up his canoe when 
he first stepped on the Indiana side of the Ohio River, withered away and 
died. A young tree of the same variety was planted in its stead and it 
stands there today surrounded by an iron fence, a growing monument to 
the founder of the city." 

Mr. Hopkins however does not hold to this belief. In his father's 
sketch the elm tree shows as a small sapling growing at the foot of a ravine, 


and I am so sure that the elder Hopkins was right that Ihave elsewhere 
stated that this old tradition is simply a mistake, like many others. 

As this work is intended to be absolutely correct in every little detail, 
the statements regarding- this tree have been made exhaustive. 


With its mighty river, its fleets of boats and great railroad lines of the 
present, to say nothing of its interurban lines in every direction, it is hard 
to realize how primitive were the ways of transportation in the early days. 
There were only two markets near here. Yincennes and Louisville, and the 
country was supplied with small household goods by peddlers. These men 
carried an endless variety of small goods and took in exchange anything 
they could send east. There were also pack-peddlers who carried their 
goods on their backs and they, not being able to "barter," got about all of 
the change that had crept into the new country. 

Many men who were prominent lights in the business world in later 
years got their first start in peddling. Such men as Asa Bement, Reuben 
Hart and Willard Carpenter began in this small way. 

The heavy articles such as nails, axes, blacksmiths' tools and iron all 
had to come from Pittsburg and generally came down in flatboats. Cloth, 
wearing apparel and cutlery came from Baltimore and Philadelphia, being 
first hauled over the mountains to Pittsburg and then floated down. Calico 
was thirty cents per yard and most of the women made their dress cloth 
in their own looms. She who had a real calico dress was the silk dress 
woman of today. 

But as I shall speak of boating later, it is best to tell of the means of 
transportation that took the place of the railroads of today. The animals 
in most general use were oxen and for these reasons : they were cheaper, 
were more easily kept and were better for breaking up new ground — and 
of this latter much had to be done. All new ground was full of roots and 
a good horse would soon wear out with the ceaseless pounding of the plow 
against them. But the ox being slower would simply stop till the impedi- 
ment was cut out. Again, they were better for going through the new 
roads, many of which were merely blazed trails, with a road full of deep 
ruts going through them. People of the present can hardly understand 
how these roads "wore out." Each time that a wagon wheel struck a 
stump, it would push the other wheel over and a rut would wear. Then 
after a rain these ruts would fill with water and soften so that what was 
called a "chuck-hole" would appear. When these got too numerous the next 
man would go around them, thus making a new road, and soon there would 
be half a dozen along one trail. Of course all farmers were expected to 
"work" the roads each spring, but they did this in a haphazard way. 

It soon became necessary for Evansville to branch out. It was rapidly 
becoming the center of a growing country and was even then the second 


town in the state, and it was then that the first regular stage Hnes were 

In the early '30s a band of Englishmen came here from Chattevis, and 
among them was Joseph Setchell. He went into tlie livery business on a 
small scale with Alanson Warner and their stable was on Locust street, 
just back of where the St. George now stands. Soon he branched out and 
opened a stable on Division street between First and Second and here he 
began to send out stage lines. The first one was to New Harmony and 
next to Mt. Vernon but the Boonville stage was run as a rule by settlers 
in either Boonville or Newburg. Setchell had the first team of four white 
horses ever seen here, and had them docked, but used them mostly in his 
livery business. The old stable burned and he formed a partnership with 
the late Edward Bowles and built a fine stable where the Vickery building 
now stands opposite the Custom House. Long after the E. & T. H. was 
built and long before the days of the L. & N. these stages took the place of 
railroads. Setchell often drove himself as did Mr. Bowles — who by the 
way taught me to handle the tandem lines. These stages were the Concord 
stage differing from the western stages in many respects. Of course on 
some of the old ones the body hung by straps, but they soon gave way to 

These stages carried not only passengers but great loads of stuff in the 
"boots" at the back. Even in my day I have seen them come in with the 
boot and the body of the stage completely packed with furs. 

They carried the mail, and one small pouch was more than enough. 
People did not write much in those days, and in the little settlements, if 
a man got a letter, he generally stood with it in his hands for a time while 
his neighbors stood around with sympathy in their faces, for he always 
feared that it contained "bad news." And this was usually the case. 
People had no gossip to send and a letter generally was a notice of some 
death. In the summer it was the custom to use two horses, but in winter 
and the early spring it was hard to pull through with four good horses, 
for the wheels sometimes sunk into the chuck holes, until the axles dragged. 

Among the old time stage drivers the only one now living is "Uncle 
Billy Green" of Vincennes, who celebrated his ninety-eight birthday on 
the seventeenth of April, 1910. As was his regular custom he had a birth- 
day cake, with a candle on it for every year of his life. He has splendid 
health and there is every indication that he will live to pass the century 
mark. He not only walks regularly five blocks once a week alone and un- 
assisted, but reads his daily paper without glasses and attends to chores 
about the house. It is nothing uncommon to see him in the horse lot at 
the rear of his home hitching up a horse to a mail wagon, he having had 
the contract for transferring the mails to and from the union station aud 
post office for years, or throwing down hay out of the hay mow. He likes 
to work and insists that he be allowed to do so, and does not let a day go 
by in which he does not see that his horses are well cared for. He claims 


to be as yet a young man and his one ambition is to live to be lOO years of 
age. His only ailment seems to be a slight deafness in one ear. He was 
dangerously ill when a man of thirty years of age, and since then has had 
but few doctor bills to pay. 

In February, 1831, Mr. Green emigrated to Vincennes purchasing his 
ticket at Liverpool, England, he being a native of England, paying fifty dol- 
lars for his transportation. Five weeks after starting he landed in New 
York. He remained in New York city but a short time, going from there 
by water and stage to Evansville. With William Bates, who had accom- 
panied him to this country, he walked from Evansville to a point about ten 
miles distant to visit a friend of his family who had come to this country- 
several years before. After a short visit with his friend he returned to 
Evansville where he accepted a position as stage driver with an Evans- 
ville liveryman, Joseph Setchell. 

In the fall of 1831 he made his first visit to Vincennes, in company 
with the late Samuel Emison and Captain Fellows, who had been to New- 
Orleans on a trading expedition. For three years following he drove a 
stage between Vincennes and Evansville and has many thrilling stories 
which he sometimes is induced to tell to his friends. At the end of three 
years' residence in Vincennes he entered into partnership with others doing 
a stage business in that section of the country. Some of his stages went to 
Evansville, some to Louisville, some to Terre Haute and some to Danville. 
Vincennes being one of the oldest cities was a post office center and mail 
was opened there and distributed over the diflFerent routes. It is told that 
he was the most successful in the carrying of mail and that the government 
always had a safe contract with his firm. 

In the early years of his residence there Vincennes was a great trading 
point. He states that previous to the time to the building of the railroads 
it was an every day occurrence in the summer and fall to see twenty- 
five flat boats loaded with grain, lumber and other articles for Memphis, 
New Orleans and other ports on the Mississippi. Tlie stage route between 
Lafayette and Evansville passed through Vincennes and brought him much 
business. Vincennes at the time was larger than either Evansville or Terre 

Mr. Green has really been in the service of the Government, over sixty- 
five years, as he still has a mail contract. In a recent interview as to his 
early life in Vincennes he said: "I carried mail between Vincennes and 
Danville at one time and the year contract was $4,500. This route was 
estabHshed by me. Evansville when I first went there had but five brick 
houses. In those days the Wabash was extensively used. I have seen as 
many a fifty boats pass down on the way from Lafayette. I have bought 
thousands of bushels of corn at ten cents a bushel." 

Mr. Green is only a little older than Mr. Thos. Scantlin of this city, 
but Mr. Scantlin came here in 1820, while Uncle Billy Green did not leave 
England until 183 1. There are many living here who will remember Mar- 


tin Cash as one of the oldest and most steady drivers for Mr. Joe Setchell. 
Of the Setchell family there is, I think, only one descendent living, a 
granddaughter in Cincinnati. 


The carrying of passengers and mail, and the traffic of goods by ped- 
dling wagons was as naught compared to the great business done by flat- 
boating on the Ohio in the early days. As the country kept improving it 
was an easy matter for the traders and store keepers to acquire great quan- 
tities of corn, pork, lard, venison and even eggs and poultry and there was 
always a ready market for all these things in the south and the old-time flat- 
boat offered the cheapest and most easy way of transportation. Most of 
the boats were built above here or up the smaller rivers and this city can- 
not be said to have been a building point. Even the boats that floated salt 
from the Kanawha river to Cincinnati, which were simply open boats 
were made over and roofed. Many of the best men we had, such as Gen. 
Joseph Lane, Barney Cody, Wm. Elliott, Tom Stinson, Wm. Onyett and 
others were experienced fiatboatmen. And they were the pioneer pilots 
and knew the river as well as the men made famous by the late Mark 
Twain. It was said of Jake Walliver, with whom I made a trip, that he 
could sleep twenty-four hours or "stay below" for that length of time and 
come on deck and take a look around on the darkest of nights and tell ex- 
actly where we were and how soon we would have to work the "gonger." 

Great fleets of these boats went down together, ready for mutual help, 
but it was found always that one boat with a single crew could be handled 
better than two boats, lashed together, with a double crew. 

There were some few boats made with a regular bow or stern, and 
carefully built, but these were smaller than the others and lighter as it 
was expected that they would be poled and "cordelled" back. 

Cordelling consisted in sending a long rope ahead and then pulling the 
boat up. Then going ahead again. It can easily be imagined that this 
labor when half the time the men were in it the water was most strenuous. 

The easy way was to pin the old boats together with pegs, though later 
some nails and spikes were used in the bottom, and then sell the boats down 
on the Sugar Coast. There are thousands of bins, stables, gins, etc., in the 
south today, the foundation timbers of which came out of the old Indiana 

A boat could always be sold for about what it cost to build it, for 
Northern wood was always in demand. It was no easy task to build a 
really good boat, though hundreds made by unskilled hands, clumsily put 
together and looking very frail annually went down and thanks to good 
weather and a safe pilot, reached their destination safely. It must be re- 
membered that the awful snags of those days always pointed down stream 
and if a flat boat had a good solid bottom it glided over them. 


To build boat a good straigbt poplar was generally selected, from which 
to make the gunwales or "gunnels" as they were called. These must be 
say sixty to eighty feet long, and as straight as possible. The sides of the 
poplar, thus cut down were hewed straight, with a common ax or broad- 
ax, and then it was split and again hewed, until the two gunwales matched 
as nearly as possible. A slope up was hewed at each end, in order to do 
away with a perfectly flat bow or stern. These were then dragged as near 
the river or creek as possible. Into these two gunwales, great girders were 
cut in and fastened witli wooden pegs, as were also smaller girders to hold 
the floor. The boats were 15 to 18 feet wide. The bottoms were of very 
heavy lumber as they had to stand all sorts of wear and tear in their rough 
voyages. Sometimes in the ice and over sand and gravel bars and old 
snags. Hemp was used for calking and regular iron chisel made for that 
purpose being used, though sometimes when the boat was very primitive, 
chisels of very hard wood were used. After the calking a thin floor was 
laid to hold it in place and also add to the strength of the bottom. Of 
course all this time the boat was inverted, and after it was hand spiked 
and rolled into the river, mud and dirt were put on one edge to sink that 
side while the other was raised up by a line thrown over a tree and drawn 
by oxen. After the boat was righted, the sides, also of heavy stuff were 
built on and then roofed. There were no windows but only one door at 
each end. There was a little platform at each end, simply for security. 
The cook room and bunks, which were merely wooden pens, so to speak, 
were in the bow, so that the crew when called up suddenly, could be near 
the "gonger" which was the main oar and the most used. A steering oar 
was of little use when a boat was simply moving with the current or by the 
slow action of the side sweeps but it was the gonger that called for "three 
thumps" on deck the most often. These oars were of big limbs with a 
natural curve' in them. Tliey were the gonger in front, the side sweeps, 
one on each side and the steering oar. On the end of each of these limbs, 
a heavy broad plank was pegged and so nicely were they adjusted, that, 
clumsy as they were, a boy could move them. 

These boats could hold an enormous lot of produce. The bottom being 
flat it was hard to get them low down in the water with any ordinary load. 
The pump was a crude aflair and was worked with a springy sapling 
which, bent over, would do half the work by springing back into place. 
This was always carefully watched and it was a crime for any "watch" 
to go off duty without first pumping out. The watches were four hours on 
and four off and one can figure that a man's sleep was pretty badly broken, 
but it was easy when one got used to it. 

Flatboating was not without its dangers. The Pittsburg coal flatboat- 
men were a rough set and there were men at various places along the Ohio 
who would rob any boat that came along. One gang at Cave-in-Rock just 
below the mouth of the Wabash, levied toll for quite a time. Of course 
they got little except produce which they sold again. Their method was 



to go up stream and lie in wait for the boats, row out to them and under 
some pretense get aboard and with guns force the men to row over to the 
Illinois side where they would tie up tlie boat and force the crew to help 
them take the stufiF out on the banks. At one time the Indians near Shaw- 
neetown used to work the same scheme, but after a few ruffians and In- 
dians were quietly knocked out of their canoes by the unerring rifles of 
the flatboatmen the thing stopped. As may be understood, a loaded 
tlatboat was a regular fort. It was hard for a bullet to penetrate the sides 
of those old boats and when it did it became spent in the corn or bacon. 
Even with good boats, well loaded and past the primary difficulties of the 
trip the work of these old pioneers was hard. 

The Mississippi with its treacherous currents, its shifting bars, caving 
banks and fallen trees was full of dangers. Sometimes in the great bends, 
the three thumps, which meant "all on deck" were given, and the crew 
would work for hours, pulling away from the "point" which invariably 
marked the end of the bend and it was only by the greatest work that the 
boat was kept from being dashed on it. It would seem to an outsider 
that it was an easy job to get out on the "broad bosom of the Ohio" in the 
center, and float idly down. Those who have noted the ice pile up on the 
city wharf and the work of some big tow-boat trying to swing its barges 
around the bend in front of the city, can understand how it is in the 
rapid Mississippi river. 

Sometimes great storms would come up and then it was that the pilot 
showed that he was also a weather prophet. Lx>ng ere it burst he would 
be peering ahead at both shores trying to find a good lee point, or a big 
drift pile behind which he could swing in his boat. When near the shore 
a head line was rapidly sent out and made fast to some big tree and the 
boat eased down by letting the rope slip gradually till there was no danger 
of a break. Then the stern line would be put out and all made safe. 

The way of buying and selling the com if a boat took a full corn load 
was rather funny. The corn was bought by the owner of the boat or his 
agent before the boat reached the sellers landing. It was always in rail 
cribs, as near the water as possible, in order to make a short "carry." 

To take it aboard a barrel was arranged with a handle on each side, 
and with two men to a barrel, both filling it was fast work. The owner and 
the man in charge of the loading simply kept tally of the barrels until it was 
decided to weigh a few. Remember this was when it was being bought. 
It may have been mental telepathy, but somehow all the men knew about 
what time a pair would be stopped with the curt order "weigh that barrel." 
It was then that the lower part of the barrel was filled with corn all stuck 
in so as to leave as many spaces as possible but the top would be piled up 
so high that the corn would almost topple off. It was just such a barrel 
as this that the owner would select to be weighed, as of course this barrel 
and two others would make the "estimated" weight by which all the others 
were guaged. Tihen it was, that probably the next twenty-five or fifty bar- 


rels would go out "fixed." If there were any very green hands they would 
be told to go and do something else, leaving at least two or three of the 
old experts to fix the barrels, till the two others were weighed. I once saw 
one of these "experts" when told to stop with his barrel, turn so suddenly 
that he twisted one of his partners' hands loose (by accident [?]) and the 
barrel dropped into the river. He knew the barrel was not fixed well 
enough to be weighed and would also show by its difference in weight 
from the former barrel, that something was wrong. 

Naturally when the boat sold out, down on the sugar coast, the tactics 
were completely reversed. The barrels to be weighed were deftly filled 
so as to show the very heaviest weight, and after that the great point was 
to make the load show as many barrels as possible, but they were all based 
on the weight of the heavy barrels. So it will be seen there are tricks in all 
trades, even in fiatboating. 

The fare on the boats was the very simplest. Bacon, corn bread, po- 
tatoes and onions, sometimes we had molasses or sorghum. The cook had 
the easiest job, as he was not supposed to come on deck, except in times 
of grave danger. 





Evansville has been a city of booms, but most of those of the past 
have been spasmodic. The present one seems to be a fixture and the uni- 
versal feeHng seems to be that it will never stop until this becomes one of 
the great cities of the West. 

In the year 1836 there were about fifteen buildings of all kinds on 
Water street. On First street there were some twenty-six, Main street 
was poorly built up. The Mitchell family owned the comer where the 
Richmond Hotel stands, and across the street was Lewis Bros, store, 
which had a large warehouse in the rear. In this the first court was held. 
This warehouse was also utilized for the first balls ever held here. 

Across Main street was another warehouse belonging to Mitchell and 
in the rear on the corner was the Kazar House. On the west side was 
an old frame in which Wm. and Crawford Bell kept a drug store. Then 
came the old two story brick on the corner of Main and First, which was 
first used as a store by Sherwood & Reilly, then by John Shanklin and 
then by Shanklin & Reilly. This building stood many years and was torn 
down when the Merchants National Bank was built. Across the street 
where the up town office of the L. & N. now stands, was a log cabin and 
on the alley, where the Tribune formerly existed, (now the B. & B. Laun- 
dry) was another cabin. 

Above Second on the east side of Main were some small frames and in 
one of them that pioneer James Scantlin had a tin shop. The old court 
house stood at Main and Third, when the Hartz cigar store stands, but 
court was held up stairs. It was on a sort of public square and where the 
second court house (on the Eichel Block property) stood was an old pond, 
where people watered their cattle. Above Fourth was a frame on one side 
and Henson's brick on the other. The ground was all cut up with sloughs 
and gullies in every direction. I have seen wild ducks in a pond which lay 
in front of the old Willard Carpenter home. No one tried to keep back 
the water and at every "rise, both the river and Pigeon creek backed up as 
they chose. The first graveyard was between Third and Fourth streets, 
two blocks below Main. It was uncared for and the deaths were so few, 


that each time there was a funeral a way had to be cut in through the 
thicket. The second graveyard will be remembered by many. It laid 
just a block above the Canal street school on Mulberry street. 

At this time the entire real and personal property owned in Evansville 
was $863,675 and the total assessment was $3,266.66>^. At this time the 
Board of Trustees, etc., was as follows: President, Robert M. Evans; 
Trustees, James Lockhard, Wm. Walker, Edward Hopkins, Abraham B. 
Coleman, John Douglass, Thomas F. Stockwell and Francis Amory. 
Joseph Bowles, Clerk. James Cawson, Treasurer. John S. Hopkins, 
Collector and Amos Clark, City Attorney. 

At this time just when the little town seemed to be ready to grow, came 
the awful panic of 1837, and from that time until 1844, Evansville, instead 
of increasing, gradually went back. The store keepers had to mortgage 
to secure Eastern creditors and land that had been bought on time, or par- 
tial payments was allowed to lapse to the original owners. Many who prior 
to that time had had faith in the future of the city moved away. Among 
them was Amos Clark, who seems to have been a splendid lawyer. 

As to his ability there is no doubt and it is to be regretted that he was 
forced to leave here through financial stress. But there were others who 
soon came and their names and deeds are graven in the history of 

The town lessened in population and wealth and also in its commercial 
importance. Some struggled against the calamity for a time and either 
went into bankruptcy or turned their possessions over to their creditors and 
went elsewhere to start anew. Col. Dobyns of Tennessee, married Cla- 
rissa, a daughter of Hugh McGary and thus became possessed of certain 
property interests in and about Evansville, which were entrusted to the 
management of Mr. Clark. The condition of the times preceding and fol- 
lowing the financial panic of 1837 is shown by the personal letters which 
passed between the gentlemen at that time, from which some extracts are 
here made. 

Mr. Clark wrote to Col. Dobyns January 20th, 1837, as follows : 

"Dear Sir: — I have been applied to repeatedly for leases upon land ad- 
joining town, but have not yet given any, and think it best not to offer the 
land for sale. The favorable termination of the canal renders the land ex- 
tremely valuable. I have no doubt but if it were laid out in lots it might, 
a considerable portion of it, sell from one to two thousand dollars per acre. 
The canal terminates in a large basin at the end of the street which leads 
out from the public square, and by opening a street to the Princeton road 
following the course of the street which divides the Lower enlargement 
from the original plat, will render this land of incalculable value. Laughlin 
has done nothing concerning the six acres on which the old steam mill 
stood. That piece is now worth not less than $20,000 — our railroad, I 
have no doubt, will be commenced this year. The canal on this end of 
the line is under contract and the work is progressing." 


The conditions changed soon afterward. On February 21st, 1838, Mr. 
Clark wrote: "As to the money, there is none in my hands or anybody's 
else in this part of the country. It is an article now more difficult to obtain 
than I ever knew it." He proceeded to tell of the failures, assignments, 
taking of mortgages and judgments to secure claims and pictured the great- 
est financial distress. Again June 6th, 1838, he said: "As to the getting 
money out of Walker, it is out of the question at present. It is impossible 
now to collect money except by sueing, and under existing circumstances, 
I would hardly advise that course." More than two years after, on July 
2nd, he wrote, "I tried every means in my power to raise some money for 
you, but it was out of the question. In fact, there is no cash here. Town 
is dead and his estate is not settled. Goodsell is doing all he can and will 
get through. Walker is worth money, but has got none, and says this week 
he expects to be protested in bank. As for myself, I shall recover judg- 
mens next term against some of the best men in the place sufficient to pay 
all I owe, and am determined to close my business as soon as the law will 
let me, so there is no use suing me." With an account of foreclosures, 
ejectments, etc., he portrayed greater distress than prevailed two and a half 
years earlier. The following letter is presented in full: 

EvAxsviLLE, 4th, March, 1840. 

"Dear Sir : — I have not heard from you this winter, except Mr. Good- 
sell told me on my return from Harrisburgh, where I attended as a dele- 
gate to the National convention, that he had received a letter from you. It 
will be advisable for you to be here at our court, by all means. The New 
Yorkers have brought their suit now for the land in an action of ejectment, 
of which Tam this moment apprised, and it renders it still more necessary 
for you to be here. I have another reason why I want you to come. 
I have a good little steamboat exactly calculated for your trade which I 
want to sell you. She sold last summer at $3,500, and an additional $500.00 
was laid out on her. I will let you take her at a fair price and take claims 
here and property for her. By this means you will get your pay and have 
it under your control. She is a sound good boat and will carry, I suppose, 
sixty or seventy tons. As to any money being now collected, or for years 
to come, it is out of the question. Our legislature has passed a most ex- 
traordinary law with a view to relieve the people, by which it will be nex't 
to impossible to collect debts, and have taken away one term of our court. 
Our public works are stopped, the state is bankrupt and half of the people 
in it. Produce is low and falling, and what is to be done God only 
knows. I returned last night from a trip far up the Wabash and found 
times harder there than here, if possible. Property here can not be sold 
at any price, and I am well satisfied I can make you a trade in this steam- 
boat that will be much better to you than to have your concerns lying as 
they now do. You will, of course, be here as soon as a letter could reach 
me, if not, write immediately. Yours truly, 

"Amos Clark." 


In 1838 the census showed a population in Evansville of 1,228 repre- 
sented as follows: White males, 567; white females, 621; colored males, 
24; colored females, 16. In 1840 the population of the county was 6,250 
and the town 2,121. In the last year, the mercantile interests of Evansville 
were represented by the following individuals and firms : 

Shanklin & Johnson, Rowley & Sherwood, Henry D. Allis, John Mit- 
chell, John M. Stockwell & Co., Burbank & Co., Jones & Royston, Jerome 

B. Lawphear, John R. Wilcox, F. C. Gwathney, Alexander Price, S. W. 
Townsend, Edward Hopkins, John H. Maghee, William Caldwell, Fred 
Wetsell, Martin Schovel, A. B. Carpenter & Co., Charles L. Rhomann, 

C. M. Griffith, Robert Barnes, Thomas Gedney, Charles Folmen, Bittrolff 
& Geissler, Joseph Raim, P. Wise & Co., G. A. Meyers, G. Venneman & Co., 
J. E. Wood, B. Jacobs & Co., Daniel Wolsey, John Greek, Edward Jewell, 
W. & C. Bell, Decker & Kramer, L. & P. Hornbrook, A. M. Klein, C. New- 
burgher & Co., T. G. Thurston, Peter Vaughn, John S. Hopkins, A. Laugh- 
lin, J. Farquher, G. W. Miller, Harrison & Walker, C. D. Bourne, C. Levy 
& Co., and J. W. Tileston & Son. 

While these hard times were going on, the brilliant and spirited cam- 
paign of 1840 was fought and William Henry Harrison was triumphantly 
elected. The stirring scenes of that campaign can never be forgotten by 
those who witnessed them, and they form an interesting chapter in our na- 
tional history. 

About 1842 wise legislation and private thrift and economy brought 
back a fair degree of prosperity and the country began to recover from the 
results of the panic. Evansville shared in the improved conditions of af- 
fairs, but her revival was more largely due to favorable causes of a local 
nature. Faith in the future of the town, however, was not firmly fixed 
until about 1845. In the time of the distress attending the business stagna- 
tion, in November, 1842, the town was swept by the most destructive fire 
that thus far had ever occurred in its limits. All the houses fronting on 
the east side of Main street, between First and Second, were destroyed. 
There were no fire engines in those days and the citizens were compelled 
to carry water in buckets from a cistern located in the yard of the old 
State Bank, and had great difficulty in controlling the flames. 

The work on the northern portion of the Wabash and Erie canal had 
been pushed forward as much as possible. It was completed to Lafayette 
in 1841, in which year a second grant of land was made by the general 
government. The sagacious and far-seeing men of that day held tenaciously 
to the idea that Evansville's location was exceptionally favorable for the 
building of a great city and they set about industriously to work a realiza- 
tion of their hopes. The state debt was honorably compromised, but there 
was no possibility of inducing the legislature to undertake anew the scheme 
of internal improvement, and the national congress was again looked to for 
aid. Hon. Conrad Baker, Gen. Joseph Lane, Hon. William Brown Butler, 
Willard Carpenter and other prominent men did their part in effecting an 


honorable settlement of the state debts and in securing favorable legislation 
by congress. In J845 the third grant of lands for the construction of the 
canal was made. It included one-half of all unsold lands in the Vincennes 
land district. The completion of the canal became, in this way, assured, 
and the anticipation of the benefits to be derived from its successful work- 
ings strengthened confidence in future growth, and gave an impetus to busi- 
ness such as it had never felt before. 

Evansville became an El Dorado to which men of all classes flocked 
to better their conditions. Speculators visited the town, examined its ad- 
vantages and prospects, pushed on across the prairies to Chicago or went 
by steamer to St. Louis, investigated those places and returned to Evans- 
ville as the land of greater promise. Life, hope and energy were infused 
into every branch of business. The surrounding lands far to the interior 
had by this time passed from the possession of the government into the 
hands of individuals, and the agriculturist seeking a new home was forced 
to induce some earlier settler to part with some of his holdings. \'alues 
of real estate in town and country rapidly advanced. New farms were fast 
brought into cultivation, forests fell before the axe of progress, and be- 
cause of the productiveness of the soil, which had garnered in its pores, 
the accumulating richness of ages, vast quantities of farm products found 
their way into the markets of Evansville. Merchants buying produce and 
shipping it southward and furnishing supplies of tea, cofifee, sugar, spices 
and manufactured goods to the farmers multiplied and the volume of busi- 
ness transacted increased so rapidly as to occasion wonder and amazement. 
Long lines of wagons from points as far inward as Vincennes, Lafayette 
and Terre Haute, came to Evansville to effect these exchanges. Magnifi- 
cent steamers daily landed at the wharf and lay for hours discharging and 
receiving freight. The levee as soon as it was constructed, in 1848, and 
prior to that time the river bank in front of the city from end to end, was 
stacked with produce of all kinds. This was the commencement of Evans- 
ville's career as a great commercial city. Her favorable position for hand- 
ling the products of a large and productive region, recognized for years and 
indeed from the first looked forward to as a source of greatness only await- 
ing development, was now yielding the rich fruits so long anticipated. 

Men of large attainments, broad experience and dauntless energy were 
coming from lands beyond the sea, England, Ireland and especially Ger- 
many and from distant states, to engage in mercantile or professional pur- 
suits in this thriving place. Skilled artisans and manufacturing laborers 
were also seeking here a home. The descendants of the earlier pioneers in 
various parts of the country, of strong character and sterling worth, in the 
vigor of youth, left the farms of their fathers and came to the town, to 
enter upon broader fields of usefulness than the old homesteads promised. 
In its proportions, its advantages and its importance, Evansville soon be- 
came a city. 


On the 29th day of January, 1847, the governor of Indiana approved 
an act of the State legislature, granting to the citizens of the town of 
Evansville, a city charter. Its mayor, the members of the first council and 
its officers chosen at an election held on the first Monday in April, 1847, 
were all men of distinction and recognized ability. Hon. James G. Jones, 
a distinguished lawyer and citizen, was selected as mayor. In the council, 
which met for the first time on April 12, 1847, there were L. L. Laycock, 
first ward; Silas Stephens, second ward; Willard Carpenter, third ward; 
C. M. Griffith, fourth ward; L. Howes, fifth ward; John Hewson, sixth 
ward. The first officers of the city were: John J. Chandler, clerk; William 
Bell, assessor, collector and marshal; Samuel Orr, treasurer; James E. 
Blythe, attorney and Wm. M. Walker, surveyor. At the time of its charter 
as a city, the area covered by its corporate authority was about 280 acres. 
It had 4,000 souls within its limits; the valuation of its real estate, was 
$901,324; and the amount of taxes assessed on this valuation was $3,319.47, 
a sum adequate for the needs of the young city, though insignificant when 
compared with the annual expenses of today. 

Up to this period, notwithstanding Evansville had become the most 
important shipping point between Louisville and the mouth of the Ohio, a 
distance of 400 miles, very little wharf improvements had been made, other 
than the cutting of roads through the high and almost perpendicular banks 
to the landing places. But the constantly growing commerce and increased 
shipping interests made it necessary to construct a wharf commensurate, 
with the extensive business which was being established ; and in March, 
1848, the city entered into a contract with John Mitchell, Marcus Sher- 
wood and Moses Ross, to grade the river bank and complete a wharf hav- 
ing a frontage on five squares, a length of nearly 2,000 feet. This was 
considered a great and important step forward, in the commercial history 
of a place now dignified with municipal proportions and recognized by the 
important appellation of a city. 

About the first real step taken in the way of progress by the little city, 
was the building of a canal, the Wabash & Erie. Many assumed that this 
canal was first talked of by Evansville along about the early '40s, but as 
a matter of fact. Congress first took up the idea in 1824, when it made a 
donation of public lands to the state of Indiana, for the purpose of build- 
ing a canal from the Wabash river to the Maumee. As with many other 
matters of that kind, Congress, as it does in these days, allowed the mat- 
ter to drag on until the year 1827, when it made another grant consisting 
of each alternate section of the public lands within five miles of the pro- 
posed line of the canal. This grant was accepted by the state. 

The idea was to begin on the Wabash near Lafayette and continue 
up the bank of that river to the mouth of Little river. Thence across that 
stream to its source. Thence to the junction of the St. Joseph's and St. 
Mary's at Ft. Wayne. From Ft. W^ayne it descended to the town of Mau- 
mee. It was estimated that this would cost $9,000 per mile, but the esti- 


mate was too low. There was more legislation until the year 183 1, when 
another plan was proposed to the north by way of Terre Haute. Finally 
still another proposition was put forward, the construction of the Central 
canal, to strike this and come thence along the Wabash to Evansville. Dur- 
ing all these years a great deal of time was wasted and so much money 
had been spent in making roads, clearing streams, etc., that the state became 
heavily in debt. In order to settle with its creditors who held its bonds, 
and to complete the Wabash & Evansville canal, the acts of 1846 and 1847 
were passed. The people of Evansville had almost given up all hope of 
ever being assisted by the canal system, which seemed to provide for the 
upper part of the state alone, but at this time they took fresh heart and 
realizing that with the canal Evansville would be the great outlet for the 
immense quantities of grain and produce of all kinds that came from the 
rich country above it, and feeling that it was the only natural outlet to the 
South, they can be excused for feeling that their first great step in the way 
of progression had begun. 

To make the great terminal at Evansville it was necessary to have a 
wide and deep basin and this part of the canal was always, during its exist- 
ence, called the basin, from which loaded boats, as they came, could discharge 
their cargo. To do this the old graveyard between 3rd and 5th below Syc- 
amore street, of which I have already spoken, was cleared away and a 
large basin was excavated. On the west side of this basin was a large dock 
which, by the way, was a favorite fishing place for many of our old citi- 
zens. A stock company, composed of enterprising business men of Evans- 
ville, was formed for the purpose of building canal boats and the best of 
workmen were brought here from the East. The first boat built by the 
company was called the Rowley and the second boat, the Evansville. All 
this time the canal was nothing but a huge ditch and one can imagine with 
what anxiety the people waited for the arrival of the water to fill it. When 
the news came that the water was actually coming, all the people of the 
city rushed to the banks aftd there was a day of great rejoicing. The first 
run of the boats was made as far as White river. There was much rivalry 
as to who would gain the honor of taking out the first boat. It was finally 
decided that Mason Newman, a very popular citizen, should lead off, so 
mounted on a mule, he had the honor of being the first one to start canal 
transportation from Evansville. A friend of the writer who says Mr. 
Newman on that occasion declared that he would not have swapped his 
place on the deck of that mule for a seat in the presidential chair. The 
canal-boat stock company was made up of the best and most substantial 
citizens of the little town. The first trip up the canal was quite eventful. 
The boats took no freight of course, as all freight came from above. But 
they kept open house and all the people were invited. Many took their 
guns and fishing tackle and indulged in a regular picnic and so plentiful was 
the game in the new country, through which this canal ran, that they 
brought back quite a lot of deer and bear, to say nothing of smaller game. 


It was a sad thing for the Httle city that its first step along the lines of 
cheap transportation should prove such a failure. In those days the build- 
ing of a railroad, even of the cheap kind which they had in those days, was 
looked on as an afifair of great enormitude. Little did they think, those 
good old citizens, that in a few brief years this entire section of the country 
would be traversed by a perfect network of railroads. It was the old ques- 
tion of "getting there first." The average owner of produce was in a hurry 
to get his stuff to market and those of us who remember the speed of the 
old canal boats, with their mule power, can readily imagine that as soon as 
the railroads began operating, the canal was compelled to take a back seat. 
Those who were far-seeing, readily made up their minds that the canal 
could only be of short existence and even in those days it was said that 
some day a railroad would run along its bed. This is the case, as the 
present Straight Line runs along it. This canal property neither in this 
section or in the north, ever paid one penny to the projectors. Of course 
all of them had bonds, but they had no real value. About the only thing 
that interested any one was to get hold of the lands that had been deeded 
by the state and in many cases these were bought for a mere song and to- 
day they are some of the finest farming lands in the world. Many of these 
sales were spurious and the titles were very vague and this led to endless 
litigations. As late as the year 1871 Mr. John Shanklin, one of our best 
citizens, brought suit to recover a tract that he had donated to the canal 
under certain provisions. This suit was lost, as was also the suit of Mr. 
Collett of Terre Haute, who for many years thought to gain a large body 
of this land. In order to locate this canal thoroughly, it might be stated 
that it came in a straight line from the north past what was known as 
Hulls hill and turned abruptly just above the Mulberry street schoolhouse. 
From thence it went down fifth street to the basin upon which a part of 
the new court house now stands, then making another turn and ending at 
the bank of Pigeon Creek, for it was here that the holders proposed to 
get rid of all overflow if necessary. One by one the old canal boats ceased 
being used and were left at various points along the canal or broken up 
and their timbers used in the construction of flat boats and other boats to 
be used in the Ohio river, until finally nothing remained except a few old 
wrecks. Water in the canal remained from 1838 to 1859 when, as per legal 
report, "the same ceased to be used as a canal and was wholly abandoned 
for that purpose." As there was no more water feed from the sources of 
the canal, it soon began to dry up and became a series of mud holes. Be- 
low Main street especially was this the case, and it was finally decided by 
the citizens to fill it up and turn it into a street. Really, the old canal was 
of no use to any one. At the corner of Locust and the canal, the first mill 
stood, and was built by Igleheart, and the water to run their mill was 
taken from the canal. At the corner of Main a livery stable used the 
water for washing buggies and for their stock. In the lower part of the 
city a brewery used the water and all along the line the people watered 


their stock, so that really these few were the only ones who suffered in the 
least from the filling up of the canal. While the canal story is a sad one, 
there were many pleasant features about it. It seems that in the old days 
the winters were more severe and during the winter season there was 
hardly a time that there was not skating along the canal. I have seen it 
lined with people almost everywhere within the city limits while those of 
the boys who lived in the lower part of the city and went to what was then 
the Canal street schoolhouse, always skated up and back instead of walk- 
ing. Again, the fishing was always good. There were many skiffs in it. 
It was so shallow that there was no danger, so that the young people of that 
day who are now in the sere and yellow leaf, will always have a warm 
spot in their memories for the old canal. 




There is living today in Evansville, a woman who is a great-grandmother 
and who has reached, perhaps, more than the usual years allotted man, but 
Still she retains marks of the beauty which made her one of the most ad- 
mired belles of Evansville of the early day. It was the great fortune of 
the writer to call on her during the progress of this work and to find her 
in a reminiscent mood. She was bom very near the city and with due 
respect for her sex I will not say just when, but it was many years ago 
and her father was one of the first in every enterprise connected with the 
early history of Evansville. She said: "When I was a little girl we lived 
almost in a wilderness and I grew up as did most country girls, for we 
were all country girls in those days. My mother expected my sisters and 
myself to do our full share of all the household work and we did so wil- 
lingly, for we knew no better; for, in those days, children were taught to 
take up the burdens of the household early in life. The greatest trouble 
was, as I remember it, that in those days there were two old adages which 
were always in use. One was, 'Spare the rod and spoil the child' and the 
other, 'Children should be seen and not heard,' and I remember well that 
when my mother's friends called on her, we children were not debarred 
from sitting in the room, but we were not supposed to take any part what- 
ever in the conversation, so that the questions which are asked by children 
of the present day and the answering of which causes them such an early 
insight into so many things were never asked by us. What little informa- 
tion we got was through listening and there was where another adage 
comes in, 'Little pitchers have big ears.' My father lived about three 
miles from Evansville and conducted a mill and we children often played 
around it. In fact, we sometimes watched the grinding, while he was busy 
about other duties and sometimes chatted with the bashful neighbor boys 
who came to the mill and while they were not at all prepossessing, they 
simply did for the girls to practise on. The average youth who came to 
mill in those days was a raw-boned youngster, barefooted and with the 
old-time hickory shirt and blue jeans pants, the remnants of some kind of 


a hat, if he wore any at all and the hair in those days was always cut in 
about the same way. The mother of the household would fit a bowl on 
top of the youngsters head and take a pair of big shears, often those that 
were used in shearing the sheep, and she would cut squarely around the 
edge of the bowl, carefully clipping close to the skin, all the hair that was 
beneath it. You can easily imagine what they looked like and to me they 
were more like what we call top-knot chickens than anything else, for no 
mother ever thought of cutting the hair on top. Just so that it was cut 
away from the neck and the back of his head, she considered her duty done. 
If you are going to write a book, you surely ought to have a picture of one 
of those lank country boys just as he looked after his hair had been freshly 

"It is astonishing how well the girls knew how to take care of themselves. 
Many of them could shoot a rifle nearly as well as their fathers and broth- 
ers. Fear of firearms was unknown because in every house, no matter 
how humble or no matter how good, the first thing that one saw on enter- 
ing was the trusty rifle hanging from the fireplace with the ammunition 
sack by its side, and probably hanging on the antlers of a big buck. The 
men all shot so true that there were no such things as accidents, so that the 
girls grew up with an absolute freedom from any fear of any kind of a 
firearm. Many a pioneer mother could protect her house at any time from 
the few tramps who happened through the country and any of her older 
girls could do the same. Many of the girls were fine swimmers and often 
little crowds would come to our house and we would swim in the creek 
wearing loose wrappers, for we had no bathing suits in those days. I can 
say this, that such was the inborn politeness of these young country boys, 
that one of them would have sooner cut off his right hand, than to go any- 
where near the part of the creek where the girls were bathing. The rules 
were very strict in those days and very rarely broken. Of couse every girl 
could ride. That was a part of her education. But cross-saddle riding 
was unknown, as it was understood by all women that it was a very un- 
ladylike thing, and the more so because all the Indian squaws rode astride 
their ponies and no white woman ever allowed herself to imitate any of 
their ways. We all took our hands at quilting, spinning, and of course the 
cooking, and the very highest praise that could be given a young girl in 
those days was that she was a dutiful daughter and one of the best cooks 
and housekeepers in the neighborhood. Young girls in these days were 
almost all musical. At the time of which I speak there was not a single 
piano in the neighborhood and only one that was owned in Evansville 
proper. A mandolin had never been made. Nobody but negroes played 
the banjos and to the best of my knowledge there was not a guitar, so the 
only music was with our voices and the only time that we were assisted 
was when we sang with the old melodeon at the little church on the hill. 

"All around our house were dense woods and while the Indians had 
all gone except an occasional straggler who was perfectly harmless, there 


were still some wolves left and at times they became very bold. I want 
to tell you of one incident when I was probably more frightened than ever 
before in my life. 

"My older sister and myself were going to a neighbor's on an errand 
and we rode, of course, both on the same horse and with no saddle. I think 
we had a blanket possibly tied with a rope, but I know that in those days 
there were not three side saddles in this whole section of country. The 
women simply threw one leg over the horn of a man's saddle after shorten- 
ing the stirrup to the proper length. With us it was a case of 'have to 
learn.' We had to ride that way or walk and walking barefooted was 
not nearly as nice as going horseback. On this particular day we were 
riding along a country path when we heard a noise behind us and two cows 
came dashing madly along the road, pursued by two large gray wolves, 
while in the brush along the side of the path we could see quite a number 
of others. The cows were perfectly maddened with fright and they swept 
by us, frightening the horse so that he backed into some brush on the other 
side of the road. My sister clung to the reins and I clung to her and we 
succeeded in keeping our seats but the horse was so frightened by the smell 
of the wolves, that he started as hard as he could go, directly after the 
gang and in spite of my sister's pulling, she could not stop him until he ran 
to the farm house to which we were going. Naturally we began to yell 
as soon as we got near the house and the owner came out with his gun. 
We quickly told him what had happened and described the cows and he said 
at once that they were his and quickly saddling his horse, he started in the 
direction in which they had gone. We found when he came back, for we 
waited for him, being afraid to go home, that he had found the cows, but 
they had both been pulled down by the wolves and were half eaten up when 
he got there. This was right along the bank of Pigeon creek, not very far 
from where the Oak Hill Cemetery road crosses it. We knew then and 
I know now, that the presence of the cows was all that saved us, for if 
the wolves had struck the scent of the horse, they would have got him, or 
he in his frantic efforts to escape would have thrown my siste^ and myself 
and I would not be here today to tell this story. This is an actual occur- 
rence and it produced such an effect on me that even in years after, when I 
had grown up and was married, I sometimes woke at night in a perfect 
fright. I am glad to say that of such troubles, there were very few. -We 
could often hear the wolves but they were cowardly brutes and never 
seemed to have the courage to attack a man or woman, except during a 
very severe winter but woe to the vmlucky calf or sheep that strayed out 
into the woods. 

"The oxen were generally able to take care of themselves. Where a 
little band of cows, steers and oxen were together, they would form in a 
circle at the first approach of the wolves and fight them off with their 
horns and such was their instinct, that while I never saw it myself, my 


father told me that he had often seen the old oxen and the cows push the 
young steers into the center of the ring, tlius keeping them out of danger." 

The writer knows that she was correct in this, for the same method 
was always pursued in the days of the buflalo. The yearlings and the cows 
always going into the center of a ring while the old bulls fought off the 
wolves with their horns. No danger ever happened to their heads or necks, 
and it was only when one of the circle slipped out of position that a strong 
wolf would dash in and catching it by the hind legs, would "ham-string" 
it. This means cutting the tendon of the hind leg so that the animal could 
not stand. Of course an animal hurt in this way would fall a prey later 
to the wolves, who hung on the verge of the large herds on the lookout 
for any cripples or young buffalo, who trailed behind the main herd. 

Continuing her story the lady said, "You doubtless can tell all about 
the early days and you know about how the pioneers existed and how the 
girls used to dress and the country frolics, as they were called, and the 
balls and dances in town. After I married and my husband was in busi- 
ness here, of course we removed to the little place. Even in those days it 
was considered one of the most hospitable places of its size anywhere in 
the country. There were no distinctions in those days. I have lived here 
long enough to see Evansville divided into social circles of various kinds 
and I regret to say that I have lived to see money made the medium by 
which one's standing in society is judged. In other words, I have seen 
those who by birth, education and instinct, were fitted to shine in the very 
best society, if that term may be used, pushed to one side and looked down 
on by those of far grosser intellect, who by some lucky stroke of fortune 
or by means which would not be considered highly honorable, have ac- 
quired great sums of money and seem to have absorbed the idea that they 
are better than their neighbors. 

"In the olden days we were none of us rich. We all had plenty. That is 
the majority of us and if our neighbors had not as much, we helped them, 
but there was a bond of sympathy beween us all, that the people of the 
present day and age do not seem to understand. If the poor needed help 
we helped them and if they knew anything of morals or manners, they 
were gladly received at all the hospitable old homes. I may have some 
foolish ideas, but I cannot see why a man or his family who once had plenty 
of this world's goods and had lost it, often through no fault of their own, 
should not be just as good and be as well thought of, after losing their 
money, as when they had it. Riches do not last through many generations 
and many of the descendants of the families who would have been called 
wealthy in the olden days, have very little today. Yet the stock is just as 
good as ever and they are just as much entitled to every social distinction. 
I did not intend to moralize when I began to talk to you of the olden times, 
but these ideas have crept into my head as I sit and think of the careers 
of those I have known during my long residence here and of whom there 
are so few left today. I think perhaps, returning to our social enjojanents. 


that the most pleasant days in Evansville were just before the war. There 
was never a time that there were not Kentucky girls visiting here, for we 
were great neighbors with our friends across the Ohio, while girl-visiting be- 
tween here and Vincennes was a regular thing, so that there were, at every 
party, plenty of strangers who soon learned to know hospitable Evansville 
and who always came back whenever the chance presented itself. We girls 
thought nothing of little trips to the neighboring towns where we were 
equally well-treated. But when the war came, it changed everything for a 
time. No one can ever make me believe that conditions have ever been the 
same since that time. Of course this is now a great city where all sorts 
of polite social amenities are rather rigidly observed. 

"We hear little now of the straw rides, the nutting parties and the May 
parties, which were always a feature and never neglected and which filled 
my girlhood days. We were taught to believe that there was nothing 
wrong in them at all and yet conditions have changed in other ways. In 
the olden times if a young man had come to call on a young lady and had 
taken her out strolling by herself or had sat with her alone in the parlor, 
darkened to the usual shade now observed, the whole neighborhood would 
have held up its hands in holy horror. In those days when a young man 
called on a girl, either one or both parents remained in the room, during 
the winter. In summer they sat on the porches and one of them was always 
present. Very often both parents were present. There was no chance for 
that interchanging of sweet nothings which is so common today. While I 
do not go out much of an evening, I know that it is considered the proper 
thing for a young couple to sit for instance in the dark corner of a 
porch. My father would have quickly ordered off the place, any young 
man who would ever attempt such an undignified thing with my sisters or 
myself. It was only after a young couple had become engaged and the 
news was well known in the neighborhood, that they were permitted to go 
anywhere together. Some member of the family always accompanied 
them. I do not know whether this change has made matters better or 
worse. There is an old saying that love will find a way and to the best 
of my recollection, our young men of the olden times could sit in a room 
full of people with their sweethearts and look so much love that it was 
hardly necessary to say anything. The girls always understood. The 
girl who did not was not a true daughter of Mother Eve. My grand- 
daughters have often told me of "Old Folks" parties and Tacky par- 
ties and have explained to me just what they are. We had nothing of that 
kind when I was a girl and for the simplest of reasons. What would be 
considered an old folk's costume at the present time, was just about what 
we wore then. Our mothers always managed to have a best dress, as 
did each one of the girls, although the best dresses of the girls were 
usually simple white muslins with a ribbon or two. If any of us wore 
a band of lace it was from a cherished hoard that our mothers had put by 
in the old hair trunks, and which were only brought out on festal occa- 


sions. There are today in some of our old families, pieces of lace work 
which are more than a century old. These have been worn by great- 
great-grandmothers down to the present, for even at this day when every- 
thing must be new and must come from either Paris or from some high- 
priced professional dressmaker, a bit of that old lace always looks well 
to the girl who possesses it, and she considers herself lucky. But not all 
of us had laces and often our best dress for the greatest state occasion 
was a simple white muslin with a little bow at the neck, a ribbon in the 
hair or wild flowers, and a broad belt of ribbon, for the leather belt was 
absolutely unknown. To have worn a belt of that kind in those days 
would have stamped a girl as being 'mannish.' Only a man ever wore 
belts and to go a little further into details, while I am telling you of the 
old Evansville girls, it will not shock you to tell you that colored hose 
were unknown. Plain white stockings were the only thing we knew to 
match these dresses, of course. In the winter we wore wool stockings of a 
delicate hue, but the girl who attended a dance or frolic, even if there 
were heavy drifts of snow, was always supposed to wear the thinnest white 
stockings she could possibly obtain and very low shoes. 

"Among other things that are hoarded today in Evansville are the old 
shawls that the pioneer woman wore only on state occasions. These of 
course were of silk and heavily fringed and were all made either in Eng- 
land or France. Many of our mothers brought shawls from England 
when they came over and afterwards they could be traded for by those 
who happened to be in New York, Baltimore or Philadelphia, for in those 
days these were about the only points through which goods were imported, 
except Charleston, South Carolina. Many of these relics came from North 
and South Carolina, for quite a number of our people can trace their 
descent to the pioneers who came from these two states. Sometimes they 
came from New Orleans and I remember the trousseau of one wealthy 
lady who came here to live in 1850 but who died here shortly afterwards, 
that was a marvel of silks and old laces. It is unfortunate that these did 
not go into the proper hands at her death. But as I was here living in 
Evansville at the time she died, I know that neither those nor her jewels 
went where they belonged. 

It has been a pleasure to me to talk to you about the old days and after 
all, it seems but a short time since I was a girl and this country was almost 
the wilderness I have described. I know only too well that my span of 
life is nearly over and this fact comes home to me most poignantly when 
I close my eyes and think how few of the old girls of Evansville are still 
living. I have few theories about either the next life or the spirit world, 
but I often catch myself thinking that if there is such a thing as the spirit 
life and my father and mother can see what is going on today, how strange 
it must be to them to realize that the Httle country settlement in which they 
lived and reared their "children, has grown into the great pushing city of 
today, with what I am sure are the very greatest of opportunities before it." 






The deed to Hugh McGary for the ground on which stands the city of 
Evansville was made by the government to him in 1812, and, though as 
stated, Other pioneers were scattered around this section, to him and to him 
only belongs the credit of founding it. And to him belongs the credit of 
keeping it here after it was first founded, for it came near being wiped off 
the map. 

He saw the great advantages in her location. He had confidence from 
the start and was the kind of man who never turned back when once he 
made up his mind. Various descriptions of him have been given and the 
consensus of them is about as follows. He was of medium height, but 
very strongly built, and very active. He was not a man of much educa- 
tion, but belonged rather to the middle class as far as booklearning was 
concerned. But in the rough and tumble class, ready for a game of skill, 
a contest of muscle or a downright fight, he was easily a leader. 

Still he was a shrewd man and one who acquired education from obser- 
vation, as witness tlie facts that he filled admirably the position of associate 
judge of Warrick County. 

He was known as a fighter and this did not apply to his fists alone; 
he was ready to fight for anything he believed was right. He was of dark, 
almost swarthy complexion, with piercing black eyes, set wide apart. He 
married "Polly" Anthony, a daughter of the man who built the first mill 
on Pigeon Creek. 

In this connection it may not be out of place to insert a recently pub- 
lished account of his career. The writer says : 

"It is said that the history of a nation is but the biography of its great 
men and what is true of the larger governmental unit, the nation, may be 
equally so of the smaller unit, the city. The early history of Evansville is 
indeed the epitome of the activities of this one man. Colonel Hugh Mc- 
Gary, founder of a village which has become a commercial and manu- 
facturing metropolis, the abode of more than 80,000 people." 

Speaking of the return trip to Evansville after having come down the 
old Indian Trail, and thence crossed to his Kentucky home, he says : 


"Hugh McGary, and his three brothers, Jesse, Harrison and WilHam, all 
sturdy pioneers, filled with adventurous spirit, put their Kentucky home 
behind them, crossed the Ohio and sought a new abode in the wilderness 
of the new Indiana territory. They landed at the foot of what is now Di- 
vision street and drew their canoe up under the "old elm tree" which stood 
on the spot now marked by a young tree of the same variety, planted in 
recent years to commemorate the landing place of the founder of Evans- 

"Perhaps the pioneer as he stood beneath the branches of the elm saw 
a vision of the city's future. Who can deny him the prophetic eye? Who 
can say that as he stood there he did not see in his mind's eye the picture 
of the city's greatness, her tall buildings, busy factories and bustling streets ? 
"He pushed on, however, into Warrick county, but remained there only 
a few months, returning to the place where he landed. Now began the 
long and tiresome battle to establish the town which his brain had con- 

"March 27, 181 2, Colonel McGary purchased from the federal govern- 
ment much of the land which is now covered by the city of Evansville. 
He was not the first white man to settle here but those who had come 
before had lacked his hardihood, his indomitable spirit and had been driven 
back across the Ohio by the Indians, who inhabited the region. McGary 
was one of the rough and ready type of the new West.. The qualities 
which gained him prominence among the men with whom he associated 
himself were not the accomplishments and pleasing manners which attract 
attention in polite society. He had no extraordinary ability. Indeed, as 
the settlement grew up around him there were many who, intellectually, 
towered head and shoulders above him. He did, however, possess that 
which is infinitely of more value to the settler of a savage country, the es- 
sential attributes of the pioneer. Strength, the inherent strength of his 
Kentucky forests ; fearlessness, such as is found in men who dare blaze 
their own trails through the interminable wilderness ; a sense of justice, 
which restrained him from encroaching upon the rights of others and a 
pugnacious Irish disposition which boded ill for those who encroached upon 
his own, were the dominant traits of this man's character. 

"McGary was known far and wide as a "fighter," a dangerous man to 
rouse and in those days when a man's life from day to day depended upon 
his ability to defend it alike from savage man and savage beast, this repu- 
tation was rather creditable than otherwise. 

"The pioneer at first merely established a ierry over the Ohio river, 
known for miles about as McGary's ferry. In 1813 the legislature passed 
the act which resulted in the formation of Warrick county. This included 
all the territory now composing Spencer, Warrick, Vanderburg and Posey 
counties. The same year. a commission was appointed to choose a site for 
a county seat and they were directed to meet at the mill of Jonathan 
Anthony, McGary's father-in-law. McGary's land was far from being the 


center of the county but he was shrewd in placing before the commis- 
sioners the advantages of his site and by the donation of lOo acres of land 
to the county secured a favorable report from them and the choice of his 
place for the location of the seat. June 14, 1814, it was ordered by the 
county court that the agent of the county proceed to lay the city ofif into 

"The embryonic city was named in honor of General Robert M. Evans, 
a distinguished soldier and citizen of Gibson county, who had up to this 
time, in no way identified himself with the place. General Evans and 
Colonel McGary had previously been friends and neighbors and the Colonel 
was quick to realize the General's worth and the advantages to be gained 
through the weight of his name and influence. McGary doubtless took 
this means of enlisting his support and interest in the welfare of the town. 

"For a few short months everything took on a rosy hue. McGary 's ambi- 
tion seemed realized, all there was left for him to do was to sit down and 
watch the fulfillment of his dream. Three months passed in peace, and, 
then, the legislature meeting once more, decided upon the formation of 
Posey county in the southwestern comer of the territory. This so altered 
Warrick county as to place Evansville at one extremity of the river border, 
still more than fifty miles long. Because of this the legislature passed a 
law providing for the removal of the county seat from Evansville to a 
point thirteen miles to the eastward. The town established by the provision 
of the act was called Darlington and after a brief, uneventful career, passed 
out of existence, its decadence being due to the removal of the seat of jus- 
tice of Warrick county to the town of Boonville. 

"At the time when the legislature took the county seat from Evansville it 
passed a law providing that those who had risked money in lots in Evans- 
ville were authorized to cancel the deeds and collect the money paid for 
them. By this act the town was practically legislated out of existence. Stag- 
nation set in, everything sank into decay. With each passing day the out- 
look grew blacker and blacker. McGary alone was undaunted and when 
the situation presented the most discouraging view, he was busying his 
brain to find some means of avoiding complete disaster. 

"He secured a license to open a trading store and made his home the 
meeting place of every class of men. He played politics with a shrewd 
and confident hand and about this time was appointed to the associate 
judgeship of Warrick county. This was long before the day when it was 
necessary for an aspirant for judiciary honors to spend years in prepara- 
tion. To dispense justice in McGary's time the sole requisites were fair 
play, fearlessness and integrity. He possessed all of these and his record 
on the bench was no mean one. 

"On July 27, 181 7, Hugh McGary, General Evans and James W. Jones, 
also a resident of the settlement, laid out what is now known as the orig- 
inal town of Evansville, reaching from Third to Water street and from 
Chestnut to Division street. The block crossed by Third and Main streets 


was reserved as a public square. There were 144 lots in the town. On 
January 7, 1818, a law was passed by the legislature, creating Vanderburg 
county and naming Evansville as the county seat. Now McGary could see 
the beginning of the realization of his dream. His next effort was to have 
a postoffice established here and when it was, he was appointed postmaster. 
Mails were received at irregular intervals by stage from Vincennes." 

General Evans first served under General William Henry Harrison 
and fought with him at the battle of Tippecanoe. He and Harrison were 
always the warmest of friends. About the year 1826 he settled at New 
Harmony and kept a hotel, but he had confidence in this city and moved 
back here in 1828, buying a half interest in McGary's holdings. He took 
Main street for a sort of dividing line and laid out the city above it, known 
as the "Original Plan" of Evansville. History states that in 1827 General 
Evans had one son Camillus and a lovely daughter Miss Julia. When I 
came here there were four grandsons, De Witt, Bob, Paul and Perry. I 
stood over the dead bodies of Paul and Bob the night they killed each other 
at the old Appolo Halle. De Witt was drowned and though I went to 
school with Perry I never knew what became of him. 

The Evans homestead was on a little mound on the banks of the old 
canal, what is now Fifth street. There were great trees around it, the orig- 
inal growth of the forest. General Evans was a great friend of James W. 
Jones and of McGary and the three re-platted the town in 1817. Just 
before the county of Vanderburg was taken off Warrick County Evans 
and McGary then oflered to donate one hundred lots and $500 in cash if 
the legislature would "establish a permanent seat of justice in Vanderburg 
County at Evansville." 

The daughter of General Evans was married to Judge Silas Stevens. 
The only son was Camillus, who was drowned. I know the history of the 
first marriage and divorce of Paul Evans and know why he quarreled with 
his mother, then married again and went south, and also why he and Bob 
quarreled, but as it has never been published there is no good in dragging 
out a family skeleton. Mrs. Saleta Evans in her last years tried to do all 
the good she could and has left a monument to her memory. "Let the dead 
past bury its dead." 

During all this time a few settlers had been coming in and new cabins 
were being built. Hugh McGary essayed a frame house and the first court 
was held in one end of it, his family goods being moved into his store for 
the time being. The first election was held in August, 181 8, and the fol- 
lowing town trustees were elected : Hugh McGary, Isaac Fairchild, Everton 
Kinnerly, Alfred O. Warner and Francis J. Bentley. Hugh McGary was 
elected president and EHsha Harrison secretary and hster (assessor), John 
Connor treasurer. The collector and town marshal was Alphonse Fair- 
child. The first levy was twenty cents on the dollar and the great sum of 
$191.28 was collected. Tliink how little our forefathers had. At this time 
there was just one public building, an iron or tavern kept by Ansel Wood. 


It was known as the Bull's Head in after years and it remained long after 
I came here. 

The work done by McGary did not prevent the family from furnishing 
material for a criminal calendar after the courts of justice were organized. 
Jesse, the eldest brother, served as the object of the first serious prosecu- 
tion in the county. He was indicted for assault and battery with intent to 
murder. Later he was let out on bail furnished by his brothers Hugh and 
William, but once out of custody he became so violent and defiant that the 
brothers withdrew the bail and Jesse was again taken in charge by the sheriflf. 
There was no jail or safe place where he could be lodged, so he was chained 
to a hickory stump in the rear of the sheriflf's house. Like his brother Hugh 
in later years he was acquitted but was too proud to live in the community 
which had witnessed his humiliation. He soon left and was not again 
heard from. The cases of the two brothers, so nearly parallel in every par- 
ticular, form an interesting chapter in Evansville early history. 

March i, 1819, it was unanimously voted by the twenty-nine voting citi- 
zens of the town to incorporate. Hugh McGary's name appears among the 
incorporators. In the home of Alfred O. Warner March 8, 1819, twenty- 
three men voted to elect a board of five trustees. One would hesitate to 
accuse such honorable men as our early founders of corrupt politics but for 
some reason or other several of the candidates received twenty-four votes, 
when there were only twenty-three men voting. Isaac Fairchild, Francis 
J. Bentley and Everton Kennerly received twenty-four votes. Hugh Mc- 
Gary was chosen president and Elisha Harrison secretary of the board, and 
ceived one. Records do not show why three men received twenty-four 
votes, nor if Mr. Warner voted for himself. An unbiased person might 
believe that politics were played in much the same manner one century ago 
as they are now. Bentley refused to serve, so Warner got the place. Mc- 
Gary was chosen president and Elisha Harrison secretary of the board, and 
Alphus Fairchild collector and marshal. The first tax levy was twenty cents 
on each $100. 

From the time he had completed his term as associate justice of the 
county court, McGary had kept a tavern. His building was along the river 
front and was made of hewn logs, a story and a half high and thirty-eight 
feet long by eighteen feet wide. It was first used as a store but later con- 
verted into a tavern and it was here that the first postoffice was located. 
About the time of the first election the population of the village was about 
100 and it was growing rapidly. From 1820 to 1828, witnessed a period 
of depression nation wide. This caused the village to remain practically 
still during these years. McGary through all this time continued to remain 
the "first" citizen of the community. His tavern had something of the 
character of a club. All the prominent people met there and discussed the 
events and gossip of the day. 

In 1827 and 1828 prosperity began to return, carrying in its trail rapidly 
increasing population for Evansville. 


The year 1832 came and brought with it his deepest humihation. By 
a trick of fortune, McGary was repaid with ingratitude for services which 
merited the highest reward. He was arrested for horse theft, tried and 
acquitted by a court of justice but driven to seek a new home by the idle 
gossip of his enemies. 

Thus the man to whose aggressiveness and wonderful force of char- 
acter Evansville owes its founding turned his back on life's work, left the 
city for which he had given so much of the labor of his mature years and 
closed his days away from the habitation he loved. 

It was in the year of 1832 that Mark Wheeler appeared before Squire 
Jacobs of Scott township and swore out a warrant charging McGary with 
appropriating one of his horses. 

In those days horse stealing was a crime fully as serious as murder and 
of the two, punishment was generally more certain to follow the first than 
the second named offense. In the "Circuit Rider," Edward Eggleston says, 
"It is a singular tribute to the value of a horse, that among barbarous and 
half civilized people, horse stealing has ever been accounted a crime more 
atrocious than homicide. In such communities to steal a man's horse is 
the greatest of larcenies — is to rob him of the stepping stone to civiliza- 

A warrant was issued for McGary and the duty of serving it fell to the 
constable, Samuel Hooker. He well knew McGary's reputation as a 
"fighter" and anticipating a desperate resistance took five men, heavily 
armed, with him in search of the supposed culprit. The martial host found 
him peacefully astride the stolen horse, waiting to welcome them as friends. 
He surrendered without a murmur and returned with his captors and was 
arraigned before the bar of justice. 

His defense was simple. He claimed to have purchased the animal from 
a man named VVasson who subsequently ran away and could not be found. 
The act established Wasson's guilt in the minds of most of the community 
and resulted in the acquittal of McGary. 

McGary had some enemies, as every man of action must have and these 
never daring to fight him openly, satisfied their vindictive natures by libel- 
ing him at every turn. For a time he bore up proudly against all the taunts 
they hurled upon him. Rough though this man's exterior was, it covered 
a heart as tender as a woman's, and it bled when he saw men who were 
formerly his dearest friends turn coldly from him. Telling his friends he 
was going on a business trip, he mounted his horse and facing to the south- 
ward, rode away into the wilderness, never again to be heard of by those 
who had fought and worked, side by side with him in the effort to make 
Evansville the city it was destined to be. 

So runs the general impression, but as the result of exhaustive search 
I am certain that Hugh McGary simply went back to Kentucky and took 
to farming, and after an honored life died peacefully among the friends and 
relatives of his youhg manhood. It is but natural that he would not send 







firemen's day KNIGHT ERRANTRY, ETC. 

In these days where vast tracts of lands which are the property of the 
United States Government, are thrown open to the pubhc on certain days 
as has been the case with Oklahoma and other places, people are inclined 
to assume that the same general condition existed when the country around 
Evansville was settled. This, however, was not the case. The first set- 
tlers were compelled to buy their lands and were not presented with them 
by a benevolent government as has been so often the case since that time. 
Naturally all the lands in this neighborhood were assumed to belong to the 
Indians. Whether or not they had any real right to them is not for us to 
judge, but the government which has at all times treated the Indian with 
more consideration perhaps than he justly merits, was willing to accept 
the ownership of the Indians as a fact, and purchased land of them. But 
the fact remains that they were real purchases and not what is known as 
"squatter" possessions. It was not until 1804 that a treaty was made with 
the Indians by which lands within the borders of what is now Vanderburg 
County, were made accessible to the white settler. Individual pioneers grad- 
ually possessed the lands and individual effort developed the country. No 
colonies were laid here by peculiar religious, political or economic ideas for 
a field of experiment; nor did the wealthy seek large grants of land to be 
improved as great estates and peopled by a class willing to surrender a 
portion of their independence and manhood. Many settlers were driven 
back from the land of their choice, by the unfriendliness of the Indians 
but with undaunted zeal and characteristic courage they returned repeatedly 
until they were allowed to remain in peace. The treaty extinguishing the 
title of the aborigines to lands in Vanderburg and adjoining counties 
was made at Vincennes, August i8th and 27th, 1804. From the general 
government the title passed to individuals by purchase. To this rule there 
were but two exceptions in the state. The French grants near Vincennes, 
were confirmed, and given- the descendants of the early settlers there, and 
the grounds near the falls of the Ohio river, made by the state of Virginia 


to the regiment of Gen. Geo. Rogers Clark, for their valiant services in In- 
dian campaigns during the Revolutionary War. In all parts of the country 
lands owned by the general government were surveyed and sold under one 
general system. In the surveys, meridian lines were first established, run- 
ning due north from arbitrarily fixed and interchanging points. Base lines 
intersecting these were made to run due east and west. The first principle 
meridian runs due north from the mouth of the Maumee river and is, in 
fact, the east line of the state. The second meridian line, the one from 
which surveys were made in Vanderburg County, is 89 miles west of the 
first and runs due north from Little Blue river. The only base line run- 
ning over the state crossed it from east and west in latitude 38° to 30", 
leaving the Ohio river 25 miles above Louisville and striking the Wabash 
four miles about the mouth of White river. Congressional townships are 
six miles square and are divided into 36 sections of 640 acres each. They 
are numbered north and south from the base line, and east and west from 
the meridian lines, in ranges. In Vanderburg County, therefore, all con- 
gressional townships are south and all ranges are west. Fractional sections 
are those intersected by streams or confirmed grants. A section contains 
sometimes more or less than the established number of acres — 640. In 
every land district there was a land office, where all the public lands were 
sold. A register, and receiver appointed by the president and confirmed 
by the senate were the officers in charge. For the lands in this part of the 
state the office was at Vincennes. From 1816 to 1819 the price of lands 
was $2 per acre of which one-fourth was required to be paid in hand and 
the balance in three equal annual payments and a year of grace after the 
last installment became due, being allowed before the forfeiture was ex- 
ecuted. If paid at the end of four years, interest was required. About 
this time owing to the increase of immigration, following the state's ad- 
mission to the Union, lands rose rapidly in price so that vast quantities 
were purchased of the government by paying only the entrance money or 
50c. per acre. The scarcity of money and the wildness of the county 
rendered it impossible for buyers to meet their obligations. About 1818 
congress commenced passing laws to relieve against forfeitures by extend- 
ing the time of payment requiring interest, however, for the delay. Similar 
laws were enacted in 1819 and 1820. By the next year, 1821, the debt to 
the United States for public lands was beyond the control of legislation, 
because of its large amount and the numbers from whom it was due and 
the impossibility of paying it. Congress then released all interest, then 
about one-third of the whole debt, allowed lands entered to be relinquished 
and part payments thereon to be applied to pay in full for other lands and 
required all lands thereto to be sold for cash in hand and fixed the price 
at $1.25 per acre. Thf immediate effect of this legislation was to reduce 
the value of the lands already purchased and paid for, in about the same 
proportion. The large amount of lands thrown into market by the govern- 
ment would have done this alone without the reduction of price but the 


result to land owners was still more disastrous, when only three-fifths of 
former prices were demanded. 

On May 19, 1807, John W. Johnston entered all the fractional section 
25, township 6, south range 11 west, being that part of the present city of 
Evansville which lies about and below the mouth of Pigeon creek. On 
the same day William Anthony entered fractional sections i and 12, town- 
ship 8 south, range 11 west, in the township of Union, opposite the city 
of Henderson. These were the first entries made within the present limits 
of the county of Vanderburg. John W. Johnston, a native of Virginia, 
located in Vincennes in the year 1793 and remained there continuously in 
the active practice of law until his death, which occurred October 26, 1833. 
He was one of the most prominent members of the bar during his day, was 
called by his fellow citizens to fill many offices of trust and profit under 
the territorial government of the legislature from his county and made the 
first compilation of the laws of the territory. He never became a resident 
of Vanderburg County. William Anthony was a sturdy pioneer of the 
rougher sort, known in the early days of the new west, yet with those pure 
ringing qualities of genuine manhood which made his influence felt in 
molding the events of his day. He was the progenitor of the well-known 
Anthony family in Union township and for many years lived on the land 
entered in 1807, farming and operating the widely-known Anthony ferry. 

I feel that I have not properly described the weapon that was used by 
the old pioneers. It was always a rifle, as shot guns were only used by 
old men whose sight was bad or by boys. The rifle of the hunter was 
always made to order. The selection of the size of the bullet was left to 
him and very often the fore arm extended the entire length of the barrel. 
Some of these old rifles were six feet long, it being a delusion in those 
days that the longer the barrel the more true the bullet would carry. 
These guns were flint locks, that is the hammer of the gun struck a flint, 
thereby discharging a spark on to the powder in the breech of the gun, 
for this was before the day of percussion caps. As a rule not more than 
two out of three attempts to fire one of these guns were effective, as un- 
less the hammer struck the flint exactly right, there would be a "flash in 
the pan" and while the hunter was "picking his flint" before trying again, 
the game would get out of the way. In the breech of the old-fashioned 
rifle was a cavity which was closed with a brass or iron lid on a hinge, and 
in this way a piece of tallow to grease the patching which was a thin cloth 
three-quarters of an inch in diameter. This cloth was usually strung on 
little strings so as to be easily gotten and carried in the shot pouch which 
was a part of the hunter's outfit. The powder was gauged in the "primer" 
which was made out of the end of a deer horn. The piece of deer horn 
was hollowed out and was continually tested until it was made large enough 
to make the measure or necessary amount of powder to cause the rifle to 
do its best shooting and in the meantime of course, the bullets used in test- 
ing were all fired into a tree where they could be dug out again. The 


hunter took a bullet and greasing a piece of the patch, placed it at the 
muzzle of the rifle and then drove it home with a long ramrod. The 
greased cloth prevented the ball from fouling in the rifle groove. The shot 
pouch was always dressed buckskin with the hair out, to shed water and 
this, with the powder horn, which was made out of the cow's horn with 
the ends stopped up with wood, made a complete outfit. I believe I have 
stated elsewhere that the man who did not shoot off-hand without a rest 
was looked on as a kind of weak brother. 

I have also spoken of the dress of the pioneer people but did not go 
into detail and will therefore quote from an old pioneer now passed to the 
beyond, who in a book published many years ago, told of this matter: 

"The head dress of the pioneer for the male sex was either a coonskin 
cap or a home-made wool hat. The feet were covered with moccasins 
made of deer skins. Shoes were worn by most of the pioneers of this 
county except in summer, when old and young, male and female, went 
bare-footed. The blue lindsey hunting shirt was almost universally worn 
by men and boys. Pantaloons were made at a very early day of deer skin 
and lindsey, but to the settlers of this county cotton and jeans early be- 
came most common. Women's dresses were simple, substantial and well 
made. As a rule, settlers raised their own flax, cotton and wool and made 
their own garments. Good weavers were then the accomplished young 
ladies and the spinning wheel filled the little cabin with sweet music, as 
it sang its song of thrift and industry. They raised their cotton, picked 
it, carded it, wove it and then wore it. At the proper season the flax brake 
was brought into use and the product was "hackled" and spun into skein. 
The wood card was then prepared for the filling and with different kinds 
of bark various colors were given to the raw material and made it ready 
for the loom, which, with its shuttle flying noisily back and forth, soon 
brought out its yards of lindsey striped and beautiful. The head dress of 
the women was a simple cotton handkerchief or sun bonnet. They were 
not ashamed to walk a mile or two to church on Sunday, carrying their 
shoes and stockings in their hands until within a few yards of the place 
of worship when they would put them on their feet. Indeed, at early 
meetings it was quite common for nine-tenths of the people, male or fe- 
male, to be bare-footed. These modes of dress long prevailed in the coun- 
try settlements, varied of course, a mite, by those who came from beyond 
the seas, but in the town of Evansville the merchants who carried a" rather 
large and complete stock of goods, encouraged the cultivation of what 
they considered higher tastes in the matter of dress." 

Pioneer social gatherings usually had in view two objects — work and 
sport. The log rollings, house and barn raisings, wood choppings, corn 
huskings, bean pickings, wool pickings, quiltings, and apple parings, while 
attended with much labor were replete with enjoyment. During the early 
settlement of this county the occasions of amusement were preceded by 
work; every good time was earned. No man undertook to roll his logs 


alone. All joined together and went from place to place rolling. All 
houses were raised by neighborly hands. When the crops were gathered, 
the corn was put in a long pile and neighbors were invited in to husk it, 
usually after night. Log rollings and huskings were followed by a dance 
from which the young people got their greatest enjoyment. In the husk- 
ings both sexes took part, the buskers being divided into two parties, each 
with a leader. The lucky finder of a red ear reaped a rich harvest of kisses 
from those of the other sex, the rules governing the quantity of such re- 
wards varying in different sections. 

Besides the more violent sports in which the men sought diversion, it 
might be interesting and instructive to mention others of a different char- 
acter. Among them the quilting party, where the good women of the 
neighborhood came together with kind hearts and willing hands, and after 
enjoying some hours of work and conversation, they departed leaving per- 
manent and valuable results of their toil. There were few distinctions of 
birth, or wealth, or circumstances. All alike were simple in their dress and 
habits and no exacting demands were made by social forms. At the quilt- 
ing nimble fingers plied industriously until the work was done, and then 
songs were sung, games played and dancing indulged in. Indeed, the mer- 
riment was coextensive with the jovial hands of the young folks assem- 
bled. Spelling matches and debating societies furnished amusement which 
some considered of a higher sort. Here the training of the intellect was 
the paramount ostensible object. Boys and girls not belonging to the same 
family often came riding one horse. The young folks were generally paired 
and to bring about this natural selection was perhaps as worthy an object 
as these intellectual entertainments could have been. 

The early days of Vanderburg County were not unlike those about 
which the pens of Eggleston and Riley, with felicity and beauty, have told 
the world and few have lived to note the principal changes and improve- 
ments made since the early settlers, men of iron hearts and iron nerves, 
pitched their tents on these fertile lands now nearly a century ago. 

Hundreds of pages of this work could be filled up with stories of how 
the changes of Evansville have been noted by the many old citizens who 
from time to time have published the history of their experiences. How- 
ever, the same general history applies to almost everything. And in taking 
up the changes of which I am personally cognizant, I will try and treat of 
only such portions of the city as are so well known as to be understood by 
all readers. It was in 1850 that I reached Evansville but I soon went East 
and did not return until 1853. At that time I lived in a two-story brick 
house, next to the Vickory building. Next door to the east lived William 
Aikman and on the corner Samuel Orr, a citizen whom this city will ever 
honor. Towards Main street was a vacant common, then a German saloon 
kept by a man named Schwartz and on the corner where now stands the 
Gas and Electric Light Company building, was a little one-story grocery 
kept by the father of Mr. Sebastian Henrich. In those days there was 


nothing unusual in having a saloon in the back part of the grocery, but this 
place was always orderly and well conducted and here it was that such 
congenial souls as Mr. Hewson, Joseph Setchell and his old English friends 
were in the habit of taking their toddies. Reaching toward Third street 
from the Henrich grocery was a row of small houses. Across where now 
stands the Vendome was a blacksmith shop, while just on the alley was 
the residence of a Mr. O'Brien. Where the Waverly building now stands 
was the home of the Catholic priest and on the corner of Second what was 
known as the Sisters' Home, and between that and the alley was the first 
Catholic church ever built in Evansville. This stood up high with a school 
room underneath. This property was all bought by Mr. Charles Viele in 
after years and by him donated and sold to the Business Men's Associa- 
tion when that body was first organized. Just across the alley was the gun- 
smith shop of J. G. Mathesie. Next to it was a little one-story frame occu- 
pied by T. McTernan, one of the first Justices of the Peace, and next where 
the restaurant now stands was a one-story frame saloon kept by a man 
called Dublin Tricks. It was in the back room of this saloon that the first 
sparring ever done in the city of Evansville was pulled ofif. Dublin Tricks 
gained this name from the skill with which he was supposed to handle the 
gloves. His companion was a man who went by the name of the Flying 
Dutchman. There was hardly a boxer in Evansville in those days. I saw 
many a hotly contested battle through a peep hole in a back window to 
which I slipped up the alley from our house and being caught one day by 
"Tricks" who happened to be in a good humor, he told me to come in and 
watch them box and it was here that I obtained my first knowledge of the 
manly art. Across from where I lived was a large marble yard, then a 
little place in which lived the Nugent family which was afterwards sold to 
Mr. Schellhase, a young German carpenter who came here with his wife 
and it was in this little cottage that the ball players were born. Small cot- 
tages extended to the alley and then came the residence on the corner of 
Sycamore and Second of Dr. Carlstedt, founder of the Carlstedt family 
which was so well known in this city. Next to him lived a German family 
and in the next house, the father of Ex-Chief of Police Brennecke. It 
was in this little building that most of the Brennecke children were born. 
On the alley was the residence of Philip Hornbrock, one of the most jovial 
of the old pioneers, who at that time kept a boat store on Water street. 
Proceeding to the corner one found the old Lewis building, a double brick, 
which sat back from the walk. The entire place is now taken up by the 
Boetticher Kellogg Company. In the corner of this building was the jew- 
elry store of Billy Axe, a cripple, but a most jovial little fellow with a splen- 
did education and very much liked and admired by all who knew him. In 
the other end of the building was the millinery store of Madam Hahn, a 
French woman who was probably the first stylish milliner ever known here. 
Afterwards the millinery business was taken up by Mrs. Hastings who was 
located on Main near the Citizens' National Bank. Below the millinery 


store was a vacant lot and then a row of dilapidated cottages occupied 
mostly by Germans. Then back in the yard a one-story boarding house 
with a sign, "Boarding by Degan," while next to it on the corner stood the 
building which was afterwards transformed into the Brunning coffee house. 
Going further down past the magnificent store of J. Gans were nothing 
but small frames and in one of these Mr. Emerich, who was known by his 
friends as Butch Emerich, kept a butcher shop. On the extreme corner near 
Division street was the old Scriber residence, peculiarly built, the second 
story being smaller than the first. This was owned by Mr. Scriber who 
was one of the first foundry men in Evansville. He lived many years and 
his daughter became the wife of Mr. Herman Engel. Across from the 
Bruning coffee house was the Commercial hotel, kept by John O'Meara, 
the father of Jimmy O'Meara, who still lives here. Next to that was 
Mozart hall, the first place of amusement in Evansville. Then clear to the 
comer were little frame buildings on a sort of a hill. They gave place to a 
fine store which was put up by Carpenters White and Baker just after the 
war. The old frame building stood high on a kind of a hill and was reached 
by rickety stairs. Back of this was a brick owned by Thomas Scantlin and 
occupied by Baer & Small in the liquor business. This was Mr. David 
Baer, who afterwards for years conducted a trunk business and who was 
so much loved not only by his Jewish friends, but by every man who had 
the honor of being acquainted with him. Then came another brick building 
in which Samuel E. Gilbert conducted a grocery business and on the cor- 
ner was the Orr iron store of Samuel Orr. Next to it going down Water, 
was the grocery store of Mathew Dalzell, who lived here many long years. 
Then came a row of small frame houses in one of which Messrs. Brose 
and Jenner resided. These were two pioneer Germans who came here 
early and whose decendants are still here. On the corner of Water and 
Vine was the large store of Allis & Howes, who for many years did an 
enormous business. Between this and what is known now as the St. Cloud, 
was the eye sore of Evansville, "Whisky Row." This was a succession 
of small saloons in which the rankest kinds of poison were dealt out to the 
river men who all seemed to drift there. These saloons extended up Vine 
street and one of them was occupied by Anthony Kelly, who was really 
too good a man to be in that business. The old St. Cloud was one of the 
first hotels built here after the days of the old log hotels and in it my 
mother died while my father was on a trip to New Orleans. From the 
St. Cloud down, there were various little houses until the Blue Warehouse, 
formerly quite a landmark, was reached. It had been used for the storing 
of produce in the early days but had fallen into disuse and about the last 
use made of it before it was torn down was that of a com bin. Going 
further down were nothing but little shanties and on a little knoll was the 
house of Mother Link, an old German lady who had a great love for pets. 
Her place was full of pigeons. They nested in her two little rooms, under 
the house, and so large was her flock that it used to be said by the boys 


that she was afraid to hang up a market basket anywhere for fear of 
pigeons building in it before she had a chance to go to market again. She 
had dogs, cats and all sorts of pets but they all seemed to live happily 
together and in those early days all sick people sent to old Mrs. Link for 
squabs and she never refused them. Across the creek was a garden which 
I scarcely remember. As the pronunciation comes back to me it was 
Pfalzer garden, but probably it should not be spelled that way. It was a 
tough resort and its usual record was a few dances, a few drinks and a 
general fight. It had a most unsavory reputation and was only frequented 
by the toughs of what was then known as Lamasco. Strange to say, the 
Lamasco tough always insisted in wearing a pair of pants very much like 
the style now in vogue. He wore a very short coat, and pants the larger 
the better, coming to a very small circle around his boots. He wore a 
slouch hat pulled down over his ears but contrary to the present young 
fellow who tries to look tough, his hair was cut short instead of being 
allowed to hang into his eyes as is supposed by some of the kids of the 
present age to be the mark of a very tough man. Some day these kids 
will learn that this style of hair cutting went out of existence fifteen years 

Coming back up town we strike the Pavilion hotel at the comer of 
Sycamore and Water. This was kept by Col. Drew and his estimable wife, 
a motherly-souled woman, whose pies were known all over this section of 
the country. Col. Drew belonged to the little church on the hill where now 
stands the Strouse Annex. He played the flute while his son, Cy Drew, 
who lived here so many years and married Miss Maggie Goslee, played the 
melodeon. Mr. Cy Drew seemed to be born with music in his soul and 
even as a boy was a fine performer. The Pavilion in those days was known 
as the exclusive hotel and many young brides and grooms lived there be- 
fore going to house-keeping. Further up was the old Canal bank in a two- 
story brick. This was presided over by H. G. Wheeler, president. He was 
also at the head of the public school system here and scholars who had 
reached the last stage and were in danger of being expelled, were always 
sent to him as the court of last resort. Mr. Wheeler seemed to have very 
keen judgment as to the nature of boys and gave many a wild boy a chance 
to do better. It is through his judgment that many of them afterwards 
turned into the very best citizens. On the south side of Main and Water 
was the Mitchell block, beginning where the Richmond hotel stands and 
extending to the alley. At that time no one ever seemed to think that busi- 
ness would go beyond the Canal or Fifth street. In their wildest dreams 
this was never anticipated, for they all thought that business would be cen- 
tralized and remain close to the river. Messrs. Warren (the late Geo. W. 
Warren) and Carrington, an old settler, had a music and piano store and 
now no one would ever think of going into that part of the city for any- 
thing of this kind. Further up towards where the City National Bank now 
stands were more frame buildings in one of which the first book store in 


Evansville was kept by an Englishman named J. D. Dobell. There were 
many rumors about Mr. Dobell, as to his being a son of some high English- 
man. He dressed well but confined himself to corduroy and velveteen, 
while his wife dressed as did the other English women of that day, or for 
that matter, of this day, and he seemed to have a great deal of money, 
bought a beautiful place on String Town road and up to the time of his 
death, so secretive was he that no one ever knew why he selected Evans- 
ville as the point in which to live. I merely speak of this to show how 
many different styles of people went to make up our town. Further up 
Water was the old store of Robert Barnes. The old brick which still stands, 
has braved the storms of all these years. In this old building David J. 
Mackey, E. A. Cooke, E. D. Ballinger and others were taught their first 
business lessons. The old Green river house next to it is another building 
of antiquity. 

Coming around towards First, the home of Francis Link stood on the 
hill, which was on the back part of the lot where the Orpheum Theatre 
now stands. Across the street on the same side was the handsome resi- 
dence of John Shanklin, and next to it the residence of Dr. Morgan, one 
of the pioneer physicians who lived here at the same time as Dr. Bray, 
whose old family residence is next to the Chandler block. Above the Mor- 
gan home was the residence of Mr. James Laughlin who came here from 
Pittsburg, quite a wealthy man. This old home was the scene of much 
hospitality and will never be forgotten by old citizens. His wife, Mrs. 
Madeline Laughlin, was a charming hostess and at times was assisted by 
her sister, formerly Mrs. John Hurley and now Mrs. Dement. Back toward 
the river on the opposite side of the street was a little box of a tin-shop in 
which James Scantlin, also a pioneer, conducted his business, while facing 
the river where are now the residences of Mrs. Stevens, Mr. Edward 
Sonntag, Mrs. Scantlin and Mr. Cy Scantlin, were a row of little one-story 
frame houses with a porch extending along the entire front. It was in 
front of these first houses that the old ferry bell stood. It was held in 
place by huge rocks at the base and it was here that the ringing of the bell 
brought over the ferrymen who lived on the opposite side. On the upper 
corner was a vacant lot, which was afterwards utilized by Mr. J. D. Car- 
mody when he first went into the greenhouse business. The next comer 
above was vacant, the house that had been on it having fallen down, al- 
though the old brick smoke-house remained for some years. This was a 
part of the Chandler estate and in the division of the property it fell to 
Mrs. Louise Peelar who sold it to Mr. Richard Dawes. The frame house 
above it was occupied for years by Mr. Henry Wheeler and the home on 
the corner now known as the Beltz home was built by C. R. Dement and 
afterwards sold to Samuel E. Gilbert. Before this Mr. Charles Viele had 
built his beautiful home on the comer across the street and back of it was 
the old John Ingle property which, through some mistake of the surveyor, 
extended out into First street. This building was finally condemned by 


the city and torn down and the residence of Hon. Alex. Gilchrist now 
stands on its site. In all this time Sunset park had been neglected. The 
old Barnes residence which still stands had been built but no attempt had 
been made to care for the back yard and at each succeeding rise in the 
river, the logs would wash almost to the back door. The next house above 
it was the beautiful Morgan home still one of the best built houses in 
Evansville. This was put up by John Stockwell who afterwards sold it to 
Mr. Crane. Near this was a two-story frame which had been moved from 
the lower part of the city and next to it was the saw mil! which resisted 
for many years the efforts of the citizens to have it condemned. This was 
known as the Ahlering mill and the home in which Judge Foster now lives 
and which is said to contain the best lumber in the city of Evansville, is 
filled with lumber sawed in this old mill. Next to it, where I live at pres- 
ent, was the Oakley home. James Oakley came here long before the war 
and built this house about the year 1850. He brought his slaves with him 
from Tennessee and at the rear of the house was what was known as the 
negro quarters. This had the great open fireplaces in which the old col- 
ored aunty loved so well to cook. This made the house so long and was 
of so little use in these days, that it was torn down. Above this, reaching 
to where stands the handsome residence of W. H. McCurdy was a row of 
old shacks belonging to the Amory estate. Mr. Amory lived in the corner 
house but after he went back east the .property was almost uncared for 
until it was finally ordered torn down by the chief of the fire department. 
Some of these buildings were directly on the street and were on a sort of 
hill, being approached by rickety steps. They became infested with a low 
class of negroes and their tearing down was hailed with delight by the 
whole neighborhood. Diagonally across was the brick house built by 
Charles Wells of the old firm of Wells, Kellogg & Company. There seems 
to have been another mistake on the part of the surveyor, for this building 
set out into the street and there was much question afterwards as to whether 
the house should be torn down and the street widened to conform with its 
width below, or whether the people should accept a narrow street reaching 
from the Wells corner to the Boulevard, and this was finally decided upon 
as the best way out of the trouble. All through this period it was nothing 
unusual for the river to come up every spring and flood that entire part of 
the city and it was not until the Boulevard was built that this state of 
affairs was averted. Where the building erected by Mr. Will Sonntag now 
stands and also the buildings on the corner, was an old lumber pile which 
for many years was an eye sore. This was finally bought by Mr. M. J. 
Bray who cleared it and it is now filled with beautiful homes. An old 
slough cut across this part of the city and to the best of my recollection 
it took in where now stands the old Kellogg home, now occupied by Mr. 
Maley, Haynie's drug store and most of the street lying southwest of that. 
It laid on the south side of Washington avenue which was then Blackford's 
grove. Just by Blackford's grove on what is now Washington avenue was 


what was known as Orr's meadow, belonging to Mr. Samuel Orr, and it 
was here that I used to go morning and evening with the family cow. I 
have spoken elsewhere of killing wild pigeons on Washington avenue and 
ducks this side of there, and my remembrance of this is due to the fact 
that I took the cow there, as, living at that time below Main street, I had 
little business in the upper part of the city. 

Coming down Fourth street through this part of the city there was 
very little to interest one. The houses were mostly small and badly scat- 
tered. At the corner of Chestnut and Fourth was an old building which I 
believe still stands. A block further the original market began, the first 
market house ever put up in Evansville. This was a one-story building 
and the part lying between Locust and Walnut was devoted exclusively to 
butchers. Above that the market wagons, that is the wagons of the farmers 
in this section, were driven up. But differently from now, the wagons 
were backed up to a center aisle or passageway, and one could do the mar- 
keting by passing along the center from as far up as Chestnut street down 
to Locust, but it seemed to be the way with every one to buy the meat first 
and then go on, stopping at the various stands to get vegetables, etc. In 
those days dressed poultry was almost unheard of. One bought chickens 
alive. These farmers who kept the upper part of the market were nine-tenths 
of them Germans, and some of them came from so far out in the country 
that they would drive in the night before, and, leaving their produce cov- 
ered with quilts, etc., would make little fires, cook their meals along Fourth 
street and then sleep under the wagons until daylight. As is the case now, 
the early bird caught the worm, and the one first on the spot caught the 
best of everything. This was long before the days when those keeping 
family groceries sold vegetables, and such a thing as a grocer coming to 
market for anything except vegetables for his own family was unknown. 
It will be remembered that even in late years an attempt was made to stop 
the grocers from forestalling the market. Even in those days there was 
a regular hour at which the market opened. This hour was announced 
by the market master in a loud voice, and before that time no butcher dared 
sell a steak or any countryman dare to sell any produce of any kind. In 
later years the matter has been reversed, and the wagons are backed up to 
the walks on either side of the market space, so that people going along the 
walks can purchase their goods, whereas before they took the aisle down 
the center. I have referred to the large building owned by the Single Cen- 
ter Spring Company. This was built for a tobacco warehouse during the 
canal times for at that time and for some years afterwards Evansville bid 
fair to be a great tobacco center. Out Locust street there were but few 
houses. Across from the big tobacco warehouse was the Igleheart mill 
and then coming down the square we reached Main street which was 
spanned by a wooden bridge on one side of which stood De Gaormo's livery 
stable. About where the old Marlett hall stands at Main and Fourth there 
was a little one-story frame, occupied by a man named Spaulding. I have 


never forgotten this place, as he had a most unique way of dressing his 
show windows; a way that I have never seen practiced by any other men. 
He would take a piece of paper and cut it into a shape of half a diamond, 
paste it against the front glass, leaving a little space in the center. Into 
this he would pour a little sugar, tea, coffee, rice and other articles of that 
kind, so that one stopping to look at the window could see samples of 
everything he had to sell. Chandler block, in which this work is being 
written, was then unknown. On the corner where Saunder's Transfer 
Company is now located, was a two-story frame in which a widow, Mrs. 
Hafif, kept a little store. One of her daughters was a remarkably beauti- 
ful woman and was one of the first teachers in the public school. At that 
time or soon afterwards, Mr. John Jay Chandler, father of Jack Chandler, 
built the house now occupied by Ed. Morris in the rear of the Saunder's 
Transfer Company, and soon decided to build Chandler Block, which, in its 
early day, was considered one of the finest pieces of architecture in the 
city. Back on Second street, where the beautiful Masonic building stands, 
was a row of cottages and in one of these lived Charles Martin, who by 
some means, was called Charles Fox. He was one of the first policemen 
and detectives in the city. It is thought that the name Fox was given him 
on account of his ability to ferret out crimes in those early days. He was 
succeeded by Ed. Morris, a man with only one eye, who was quite a 
character in his day. He was a brave and fearless officer and served for 
many years. It was where A. L. Swanson Electric Supply Company now 
stands that Mr. Adank opened the second ice cream saloon ever started 
here. The first one was opened by two Italians whose names I have for- 
forgotten, in a small frame building where now stands the House of Crane. 
These Italians remained only a short time and not long enough to make 
much impression on our people, but Mr. Adank, through the merits of his 
goods, soon became quite a caterer. Of course in those days a woman who 
had her trained waitresses who could take charge of an entertainment, was 
a thing entirely unknown. The hostess at all little social gatherings staid in 
the parlor, of course, but it was safe to say that her nearest family relatives 
were hard at work in the kitchen seeing that everything went right, and 
ready to announce the big supper which was always a part of those enter- 
tainments. I remember that Mr. Adank introduced a great many novel- 
ties here. In the first place, his ices and cakes were of the very best ma- 
terial but it was in decoration, that is, in early day decoration, that Ke ex- 
celled. I remember that his greatest work of art was what he called his 
Orange Pyramid. This was made by peeling oranges and separating the 
slices. When a sufficient number had been separated to form a pyramid, 
say three feet high, they were taken out doors, generally to a cold porch 
for they could not be manufactured in a warm room. Here the first foun- 
dation row of orange slices were placed around an enormous dish, with the 
points turned up and some kind of a very sticky syrup was quickly sprin- 
kled around them with a small broom. This cooled rapidly in the open air 


and then the next layer was put on top with the points turned up and so 
on until the top of the pyramid was reached. This of course was kept out 
doors until the very last moment, for the reason that on being taken into a 
room, the syrup very quickly became soft and the pyramid fell of its own 
weight, so that almost the first duty of the hostess was to see that the pyra- 
mid was demolished as soon as the guests were seated. 

Coming down the canal, reaching Sycamore street, we came to another 
bridge and on the left side of it was tlie old Union brewery. This was an 
old landmark and one of the first breweries ever started here, but yet for 
some reason it was not successful. The building was amply large. It 
stood on the bank of the canal where water was easily obtained, but the 
output was never large. I do not remember who the owners were, but I 
do remember that it was where nearly everyone went for yeast. This could 
be had on certain days, and great strings of boys and girls could be seen go- 
ing there to get the family yeast. I have a vague recollection that this 
yeast had something to do with buckwheat cakes but it is so long ago that I 
have forgotten. 

Speaking of the Union brewery, I wish to recall the most ludicrous in- 
stance that ever happened in the history of the city. After the old German 
who had failed in making a success of this plant had sold it, the building 
was occupied for quite a time by a low class of white people, many of 
them almost refugees, until it became such a public nuisance that the town 
board ordered it cleaned out. About this time the Evansville Medical So- 
ciety, which was then in its infancy, agreed with the city to look over the 
old building and put it into good shape, provided they might be allowed 
to use it, rent free. The contract was made and while no particular changes 
were made as to the exterior, several new rooms were built on the inside 
and an era of dissection which has probably never been surpassed in this 
city, began. While no one has ever charged that graves were robbed to 
furnish specimens for the numerous young students that flocked there, 
yet it is a fact as it was atferwards found out that the crop of "stiffs," 
as they termed them, was always exceedingly large. A rumor soon got 
out in the neighborhood and people began to shun the old building, but 
this had no effect on the students and the older doctors, who found that the 
secluded place was a good place in which to practice. The crop of disinte- 
grated bones soon became so large that getting rid of them became a mat- 
ter of much moment. Finally it was decided to bury them in the cellar. 

About this time the war having sprung up, and having few buildings 
which could be utilized as hospitals, the city was called on and asked to do- 
nate the use of this college for a hospital. Prior to their using it for this 
purpose, the city being full of negroes who had come across the river, 
quite a quantity of them were housed there. It is hard to remember the ex- 
act condition of affairs but it seems that some of these negroes went into 
the cellar for firewood" perhaps and came across these bones. It is a 
matter of record that the exodus of the scared coons, male and female, large 


and small, of this building was worse than a stampede or a herd of Texas 
cattle. The gruesome story of the finding of these bones spread among all 
the negroes who were then here, and it soon became a fact that after dark 
one might walk through any portion of Evansville and never meet a negro, 
it being understood among them that any coon caught out after six o'clock 
would be taken by the medical students and worked on in this hospital. 

It is a little late to tell this story, but there are today hundreds and 
hundreds of people in this city who when they read this story will remem- 
ber how easy it was to drive ofif a colored man from a place where he was 
not wanted, by simply saying "medical student." 

Coming out Sycamore the old house in which the Cook Brewery Com- 
pany started was a landmark. The old firm was Cook and Rice and was 
a very small affair, but the beer they made was first-class and plenty good 
for our citizens until Cincinnati for a time made desperate struggles to in- 
troduce Cincinnati beer and for some reason it was supposed to be better 
than the home material. But there were brains and business sagacity be- 
hind the old Cook and Rice concern, as can be seen by the enormous F. W. 
Cook Brewery plant of today, a firm that sends its goods almost all over 
the world and the beer of which has no superior anywhere. It is hard to 
believe that in these few years, for they seem few, that little two-story 
brick could be transformed into the present enormous plant. Down the 
canal on the right side coming down was the pottery of A. & L. Uhl. This 
was a small plant operated by horse power. It stood a little below the level 
of the canal. The business soon grew to such proportions that the concern 
moved out on Main street, where the Uhl brothers built houses side by side 
and those who have noticed that these houses do not stand parallel with the 
street proper, can understand that it was because as in many other instances, 
the streets were not properly laid out in those days. Out near the beauti- 
ful residential part of the town where are the Heilman homestead, Mr. 
Boetticher's, Mrs. Reis's and others, was nothing but commons, the house 
of Henry D. Allis which some time ago was ordered torn down, being the 
only one in that neighborhood. This house was considered almost out of 
town and I remember that when a dance was given by the daughters of the 
house, it was looked upon as quite a distance to travel to get there. Fulton 
avenue was then not up to its level. From Fulton avenue reaching clear to 
Cook's park, there was an enormous gully which it then seemed would 
be an impossible task to fill up. West of the gully was nothing but' pas- 
ture ground fenced up with the old rail fences. Pigeon creek was crossed 
by an old-fashioned covered bridge and the water at that time was clear 
as crystal and the fishing just above the bridge was splendid. The next 
bridge above was at the Stringtown road and this was just below the old 
Negley mill, possibly the second mill ever built in this section and which 
even then had fallen into decay. In after years a new dam was built and 
the fall utilized and a new mill put up, modern in all of its appointments 
and far different from the old Negley mill, to which the old pioneers used 


to go on horseback or in ox wagons and sometimes have to camp out over 
night and wait until their com could be ground. Out Stringtown road on 
the crest of the hill was the pioneer residence of Judge Silas Stevens, one of 
the first settlers. This house remained for many long years and when a 
young man I often passed it. It seemed to stand the ravages of time per- 
haps better than any house in that section. Those who see the Evansville 
of the present day with its beautiful level, can hardly realize how much 
filling has been done. At the time the first street car company was organ- 
ized, we were able to announce to the world that we had a city whose level 
was so perfect that a street car could be driven within its entire boundaries 
without ever striking an ascent or descent and this is correct, for the 
natural level of Evansville is better than any other city of America, except 
those built on prairie lands. But in the old days the Ohio river and Pigeon 
creek went on rampages and cut gullies as they chose. The great hollow 
of which I have spoken at the corner of Fulton avenue near Cook's park 
was cut through by waste water which cut across from Garvin's park and 
over great strips of land where are now the ball park and that section of 
the country all of which water took the most direct way of gating to Pig- 
eon creek and thence into the Ohio. 

Reverting to the Boulevard, the city has to thank Captain Alf. H. Ed- 
wards, long deceased, for the work he did in showing how easily a Boule- 
vard could do away with all danger of flooding the upper part of the city. 
It will be remember that a great gully had formed near the house occu- 
pied by Mr. Will Foster and that it reached clear across below Mr. Charles 
Hartmetz's residence and up to the high ground of what is now Second 
street. As late as 30 years ago this gulley was still there and was crossed 
on Parrett street by a long bridge which was made of the gunwales of old 
flatboats which had been transformed into a bridge. It will be noted that 
the south side of upper Second street is being rapidly filled up and as soon 
as the filling of the upper part of Sunset park is completed, thousands of 
loads of dirt will go on to the low lands which lie back of the houses which 
are now on the above named street. This will raise that entire tract to the 
level of the Boulevard and it will be only a short time until it will be platted 
and lots meet a ready sale, for the reason that the view is a beautiful one 
and that on most summer evenings a lovely breeze plays over the rich corn- 
fields that lie between the Boulevard and the river. 

One of the old land marks was the saloon and house of Captain Elles 
on Second street near where the Appolic garden existed. This was a meet- 
ing place for the first military organization ever started in Evansville. The 
members of this company were all Germans, and nearly all had served in 
the German army before emigrating to this country. They held their 
meetings once a week and for some strange reason did not announce them 
in the only paper here, but on the evening of the meeting a drummer who 
had also served in the army would go over the principal street beating a 
snare drum and using certain calls which at that time I did not understand, 


but it probably means a call for them to meet on that night. The uniform 
of this company was gorgeous and about once a year they would have a 
horseback parade but I remember well that many of the members were 
not good riders and this added to the fact that good saddle horses were 
very rare in Evansville, made the parade rather ludicrous at times. There 
may have been another military organization in the city at that time, but if 
so, I do not remember it and I am certain that it did not meet with the 
regularity of our German friends. 

Speaking of parades, although the fire department will be taken up 
later on, I cannot help telling of the great gala day in Evansville, which 
was Fireman's day. As stated elsewhere, there were two engines in Evans- 
ville, at that time, the Neptune and the Young America, though another 
non-describable one, dignified by the name of Little Sis was kept in the 
same engine house with the Neptune. This was a little hand engine that 
could be worked by four men and it put out many fires where the big en- 
gines would have been almost useless. This was even before the day when 
there were any fire cisterns in Evansville, though afterwards they were 
built in great numbers, and the engines had to rely on water supply from 
the cisterns of the houses near where the fire occurred. In many cases it 
was impossible to get the larger engines so that their suction hose could be 
used. It used to be the boast of the wild spirits who always claimed the 
Little Sis as their own, that they could run her into any front gate and into 
any back yard in Evansville, so whenever there was a fire, about the first 
thing we saw was the falling of the front fence and in would come the 
Little Sis right to the cistern in the back yard, the suction hose would be 
put down and four husky citizens would be throwing a stream about as 
large as a garden hose before the other two engines got into commission. 
But to return to Fireman's day. On that day every fireman wore a red 
shirt, a pair of black pants and a helmet. The proper tie was a loose black 
cravat and they certainly made a fine looking body of men. The engines 
would be decorated with flowers and sometimes there would be a proces- 
sion of school children and after marching through the streets all would 
repair to the big dock at the basin of the canal. Here the engines would 
be placed in position and throwing water for a prize was indulged in. It 
was not what engine could throw the farthest but what engine could throw 
the highest and the one that threw the highest stream and kept it there 
for a stated length of time won the prize, which was usually a silvver cup. 
One can easily imagine how hard these husky fellows worked. Not for 
one instant were these brakes allowed to stop but the moment one husky 
fireman showed any signs of becoming short-winded, another jumped into 
his place immediately and so on until it was finally decided who had won 
the prize. 

As horse shows, automobile races, etc., hold the limelight now, I will 
speak of about the only other festival that we had in those days. This was 
the tournament at the fair grounds. The old figure eight track was used 



and rings were placed on poles that extended over the track. A certain 
number of knights entered to compete and they used just such lances as did 
Sir Galahad and Ivanhoe and other of our old friends. The point was to 
pierce the greatest number of rings and retain them on the lances. The 
lucky man was then presented with a wreath of flowers which he at once 
carried to the grand stand and presented to his sweetheart. She was then 
known for the rest of the day as Queen of Love and Beauty. It can be 
imagined that there was a great deal of rivalry and a great deal of quiet 
practice for this event, as knight-errantry has come to us by heredity and 
there is always something fetching about anything of this kind. If I am 
not mistaken, Billy Baker, a son of Governor Conrad Baker won the first 
wreath for his lady love and I think Miss Lister was the recipient. I re- 
member further that Billy was such a prime favorite on account of his 
jovial disposition and his big heart and the hail-fellow-well-met way in 
which he approached every one, that even his most bitter enemies forgave 
him for winning the prize. We had also sleigh frolics in these old days 
where a big wagon was put onto uncouth rudders and Joe Setchell's 
four-horse team of big grays were always called into requisition. The town 
people used to make little excursions to the hospitable country homes near 
here, where, no matter whether they were expected or not, smoking suppers 
were soon ready for those who came. It was at this time, also, that mas- 
querading parties came into vogue but never in the public hall that the 
city possessed. They were always given at private houses exclusively and 
for several winters were quite the rage. 







Though the first denizens of this section were hard workers, both men 
and women, they had their sports and pastimes. Their Hves were spent 
almost entirely in the open air, for to find a door closed even in the coldest 
weather was an almost unheard of thing. The old remark, "burn your face 
while your back freezes," grew from those who sat in front of the big 
open fireplaces with the big "back logs" that lasted for days. 

About the only time the men had for sport was at the log-rollings, 
house raisings, and at elections and political meetings. The two great 
games were "raslin" (wrestling) and jumping. 

Nothing did they know of "strangle-holds," "half-Nelsons," "flying 
falls," etc. A man won when he threw the other, landed on top and held 
him down. 

Of course everybody jumped, or ran, and most of them could run like 
deer. A game called "quates" (quoits) was in great favor after there were 
a few horses in the settlement, though every shoe was valuable to nail 
over the cabin door. 

Of course the game above all others was shooting, but none could af- 
ford to shoot at a mark and waste precious powder and lead, so a prize 
of a sheep, calf or full grown cow or steer would be put up. There were 
always five prizes: 1st, hide and taller; 2nd, hind quarters; 3rd, fore 
quarters ; 4th, head and legs ; 5th, lead in the tree. 

So closely matched were some of the grand shots of the olden time 
that they would put bullet after bullet into the same hole and would have 
to shoot off ties after dark. In this case the mark was put at the foot of 
the tree, and a small fire made to show it plainly. Then, one hundred 
yards back a log was rolled up and a fire built by its side, so that the 
marksmen could see their rifle sights. I have seen this shooting off after 
dark many a time in Warrick County, the home of some of the best hunters 
that ever lived, for many of them were direct descendants of the Boones of 
Kentucky and seemed bom to the woods. 


Just a little story to show how strong heredity is. I was quail shooting 
in an old field above Boonville, when a slight snow was on the ground. 
Glancing to my left I saw a hunter coming rapidly along with his eyes bent 
to the ground and, as he came nearer, I recognized one of the steady mer- 
chants of Boonville. As he glanced up while shaking hands, I could see 
that his eyes were all ablaze and his nostrils quivering just as do those of 
a hunting dog in which the hunting instinct comes down through genera- 
tions. Said he, "See that turkey trail? I saw her in the flats, but she was 
out of range. It's a nice hen and I'm going to trail her down." "But," 
said I, "it's nearly dark now. Let's go back to town." "Back nothing," 
replied he, "I'm going to trail her till dark and she'll tree and I'll wait till 
I can see my sights and I'll get her if I have to wait till just before day- 

That man was Joe Hudspeth, who recently died, loved and respected 
by every one who knew him. He was one of the fairest, squarest men that 
ever lived, and if his conscience told him a certain thing was right he would 
stick to it, no matter what happened. Now see where heredity comes in. 
His grandmother was Susanna Boon, a sister of Col. Ratliflf Boon. 

As the Boons and their descendants are so closely connected with the 
early history of this city, perhaps another instance of the force of heredity 
may not be out of place. 

Among the pioneers who came West from Virginia and South Caro- 
lina was Thomas Jackson Hudspeth, who married Susanna, the sister of 
Col. Boon. He was a man of rugged exterior, brave and fearless but a 
God-fearing man. 

His oldest son was Thomas Jackson Hudspeth, Jr., who for many 
years was sheriff of Warrick County. He was known as "Tom Jack" all 
over that country and loved and feared alike. He was not a large man 
but had broad shoulders and a very strong back. His jaws were very 
square and his eye was as piercing as a hawk's. He died at the age of 
seventy-two with every tooth in his jaws as perfect as the day it first grew. 
In all that country his dare-devil courage made him the very best man for 
sheriff, when whisky was so plenty and all sorts of men who found it best 
to leave the East were crowding into the new West. 

In all his career he was never shot, though he would walk right up to 
a rifle or revolver and such was his grit and so absolutely was he devoid 
of any knowledge of what fear meant that no one dared to shoot at him. 
Any desperado knew that if he did not kill "Tom Jack" instantly the latter 
would wrest his gun from him, and though mortally wounded, beat out his 
brains with it before he died himself. And yet he loved little children 
and flowers and everything that was lovely in nature. 

Old citizens have told me that after he refused to serve longer as 
sheriff he was the best "peace" officer the little town ever saw. 

On Saturday afternoons, after the usual horse-trading, etc., many of 
the fanners would get drunk and of course some pair who could not agree, 


or had an old grudge, would get to fighting. Soon the friends of the first 
contestant would begin to "take sides" and then a "free for all" would get 
into progress. At such a time it was only necessary for some cool-headed 
man to yell, "Look out, men, Tom Jack is comin'," and all fighting would 
stop instantly, for he had taught them several lessons. 

His store stood at the corner of the Public Square and just as soon as 
the curses and yells that indicated a fight reached his ears he would grab 
an ax handle, wagon spoke, or anything that came handy and run out bare- 
headed. The very thickest place in the fight was the place his soul cried 
for, and using both fists, boots and whatever weapon he had, he would 
leave a string of bloody heads and noses in his wake. 

By the time he got to the center the fight was all over every time, and 
then he would tell them that if anybody still wanted to fight he could whip 
him "quicker'n hell could scorch a feather." 

So much for heredity. "Tom Jack" came by his nerve honestly. 

In all writings regarding the Boons, the name of Simon Girty creeps 
in and there are many who infer that he operated in this section, but this 
is wrong. He was a vile rengade white man, only a little removed from a 
brute. No matter what drove him from his original haunts there was no 
excuse for the atrocities he committed. He was worse and far more 
treacherous than the Indians. He first appeared over in Kentucky in 
August, 1782, with a band of Indians, some 500 in number, who had for- 
merly lived on this side of the river. He tried to kill oflF the settlers at 
Bryant's Station but was repelled by McGary, Daniel Boone and Col. Hart, 
of Lexington, aided by the settlers in that region. It is said that he was 
finally stabbed to death by another renegade. Be that as it may, so long 
as the history of this section exists his name will be execrated. It was 
just after the above fight that McGary went to Vincennes and then came 
back down the old Indian trail to the foot of Main street. 

Regarding these most primitive times the question may be asked "how 
did they live when this was only a wilderness?" I have tried to tell how 
plentiful the game was but neglected to refer to the first bread. When the 
first little clearings were made (and this was often done by two men, 
one working and the other keeping guard with a rifle) com and pumpkins 
were the only things planted, but, while waiting for the ripening of the 
little crops, some substitute for bread had to be made for they could not 
live on a constant diet of jerked venison and bear meat. 

They often roasted the white-oak acorns and ate them with their meat. 
Then they would gather wild rice and wild barley and mix it with the 
roasted acorns and these made "ash cakes." When the corn was ripe it 
was pounded and mixed with bears' grease. 

This diet and the constant living in the open air made the very strongest 
of men and women. Dyspepsia or any kind of stomach trouble was almost 
unknown. The young people matured early and married early. A boy of 
17 was expected to do a man's work on the clearing, or in hunting or 


scouting and he was expected to marry early, and with the help of his 
parents and neighbors build a little cabin, clear up a piece of land and be- 
come a citizen. All had large families. What else could be expected. 
The wives of the present, leading artificial lives, heated by artificial heat 
so to speak, laced up and bundled up at every change of the weather, 
are nothing like the women of the early day. They dressed loosely, the 
vise-like corset was unknown and their bodies were free as nature in- 
tended. They drew in great breaths of the pure air into lungs that were 
never cramped. They could go to a puncheon floor dance and dance all 
night and be up before the sun and work all next day and never feel it. 

Possibly it would be a surprising sight to see one of these pioneer 
women walk down the old Indian trail just now. Her head bare, a sort of 
jacket of tanned deer skin or "lindsey," a skirt of deer skin, and leggings 
and moccasins of the same. She might, if tasty, wear a neat little mink 
skin cap on her luxuriant hair and carry an Indian pouch. But the chances 
are she would be carrying a rosy-cheeked baby with half a dozen other 
fat and healthy children at her heels and probably not one in the lot ever 
took more medicine than a little catnip tea or a few doses of sarsaparilla 
tea each spring. And that woman would tumble the children into a canoe, 
give the baby to the eldest to hold and after telling them to sit still and 
not "spill out" pick up a paddle and strike right across this broad Ohio to 
see her "kin" over at Red Banks. And she would get there too and think 
nothing of the trip. So much for fresh air, loose clothes and daily exercise. 

Doubtless some lady readers will turn up their noses at this and say 
"Oh, they were stronger in those days." Not a bit, gentle reader. Unless 
you have by heredity a frail constitution, you could be as strong as any 
of the pioneer women — if you only breathed Gods' air as they did, cared 
as little for the dictates of fashion as they did and exercised as tliey did — 
but you don't. 

I have spoken of the clothing that was worn by the settlers but 
neglected to say just how it was made and from what, but it was almost 
a necessity for each neighborhood to have at least one or two farmers 
who raised both flax or cotton. It is a fact that in the early days cotton 
was very successfully raised in southern Indiana, and why it is not the case 
at present, is something I don't understand, for I am positive that the 
winters grow milder each year. The very fact that there is so little skating 
and so little sleighing that I can remember that for one term of five years, 
my sleigh was never taken out of the hay loft, would go to show that this 
must be the case. So why is it that cotton is not produced today ; and yet 
one can take a trip over the entire country near here and never see one 
little patch of it. Flax was what was used to form what was called the 
jean or the leading thread in the loom, where all the fabrics were made in 
the early days. It was very easily raised and gathered when ripe and tied 
into bundls and allowed to become brittle. The bundles were then opened 
and the flax was spread on the ground and left in the sun and rain until 


the stem was so brittle as to break away from the flax proper. It was 
then taken to the flax brake and so thoroughly broken that the wood part 
fell through and out of the way, leaving the flax fiber. They then used 
what was called the scutching board and a knife. It was laid on this 
board and the knife drawn over it, until nothing was left but the fiber which 
was then ready to be put on the old spinning wheel and spun into thread. 
There are a few of these old spinning wheels now in Evansville and they 
are put away among the treasures of the people who own them, but over 
in Kentucky and southern Illinois, there are thousands of them in use today, 
in the little settlements in the mountains and in the sparsely settled dis- 
tricts. The art of making this thread was indeed quite an art. What was 
called the distafif was fastened into the arm of a small wheel that stood 
about two feet away from the wheel bench proper. This distaflf was made 
of a small dogwood bush, using the part where four small forks grew to- 
gether. The bush was cut some two feet below the fork. The ends of the 
flax were gathered around the middle stem and the flax wrapped 
around it ready for the spinning. The big wheel was nm with 
the foot on the treadle and both hands had to be used in separating the 
flax so that it would run into an even thread. This thread was very strong, 
much stronger than one would naturally suppose and the fact that the old 
jeans would stand wonderful wear and tear bears out this statement. The 
next machine was the reel. The thread went around this and was run into 
pieces all of the same length and these were made into what was called 
the hank. This was taken off and twisted so as to keep it from becoming 
tangled and it was then put away ready for the winding spool. The first 
cotton came with the settlers who came here from North and South Caro- 
lina and from Tennessee. They brought the cotton seed with them. The 
colors of the cloth were about as follows : 

The brown was made from the bark of walnut trees and the hulls of 
walnut and these youngsters who hull walnuts even in these days, know 
what a stain the latter makes. Sometimes a little copperas was mixed with 
maple bark, but copperas was hard to get in those days. But it was not 
long until indigo and madder began to be brought here and in fact I have 
helped store away many a box of indigo and huge hogsheads of madder 
that came to Evansville in the original packages in which it was put up in 
the far-off land where it was grown. In the very early days, most dyes of 
this kind came up the river from New Orleans, being taken in ships to that 
port. Logwood was also used and the depth of the color was gauged by 
the quantit)^ put into the dye. I might add that there were several tan- 
yards established in this county very early. They were primitive, of course, 
but tan bark cost very little to make, so that there was quite a profit in 
the business. The shoemaker who made these hides into shoes went from 
house to house with his tools and worked during the entire year, but the 
work which he did in the summer was carefully put away until winter, 
as children and a great many women did not wear shoes at all, though some 


of the latter wore moccasins, as did the men, but every man liked to have 
good serviceable pair of cow-hide boots as they were called. A woman 
buying a dress in those days, asked for a six-yard pattern. That was 
considered enough. There were no hooks and eyes, whatever, as they had 
not been introduced and buttons or draw strings took their place. How 
easy it is now to step into our halls on a dark night and by simply touching 
a little button, light the whole house by electricity or any hall or a room 
that you may desire, and then think what it was to get a light in the old 
days. Of course the great open fire-place furnished the light in the winter 
time, but during the summer when the cooking was done out doors very 
often to keep from heating the house, light at night became a very neces- 
sary thing. It was many a day after Evansville was founded, before even 
a tallow candle made its appearance, for there was no cotton wick which 
did not appear until later and there were no tinsmiths who could make 
candle moulds. What was used was simply a tin or brass plate if one could 
be obtained with the end turned up so as to form a sort of bowl. This 
was nailed to the wall. In it was placed a piece of almost any kind of 
cloth and then it was filled with tallow or grease of any kind. The flame 
came out from the end. Of course this light was barely better than none 
at all, yet many a school boy who wished to acquire knowledge, put in his 
evenings studying by a light of this kind, as all through the day he was ex- 
pected to work. As civilization progressed, people began to want candles 
and candle wick usually sold in hanks or in balls. Then the tinsmith was 
called on to make a mould. This consisted of a series of tubes just large 
enough to make the old tallow candle which was nearly twice as large as 
the sperm candle of today. The wick was put into each of the tubes and 
pulled through the end and then the mould was filled with melted tallow 
and the mould set out to cool. When cool they were taken out and the 
rough ends at the bottom cut oflf and they were ready for use. But so 
primitive were these lights, that the candle had to be continually snuflFed 
and many a family now has a pair of these old candle snuffers put safely 
away. I know of one pair in the city which is said to be over a hundred 
years old. 

But if the good housewife was deficient in the matter of trains and 
jewelry and other articles of adornment, she_ was never without a good 
comb and it would seem that combs were about the earliest articles of 
adornment ever brought here. The pioneer women got them in Virginia 
and the Carolinas from whence most of them came and must have brought 
a bountiful supply, but even when these failed, it was very easy for the 
husband to make some kind of a horn comb for his wife. With a sharp 
knife he was able to cut out some very pretty patterns. Be that as it 
may, every pioneer mother had lier comb and as the daughters grew up, 
they also had them; and one other thing. The daughters of the family 
always seemed to have'beads and it was almost a rarity to find any young 
girl from the age 6f lo up who did not wear a string of beads. There were 


not Indian beads, but real glass beads which had probably been made in 
the east. Whether they got them through trading with the Indians who 
always were willing to trade their furs for them at the stores, is not known, 
but they were probably brought by the pioneer mothers when they came 
west to settle, and the peculiar thing was that they claimed that the beads 
were a prevention for certain kinds of sickness. In fact, I have often 
heard tlois stated in backwood families where I have been, but I do not 
remember just what sickness it was that they claimed to keep away. 
Another idea was that a girl's ears must always be pierced when she was 
young. Even if she had no ear rings, or had no expectations of getting 
any for years, they were pierced and either a small bone from a deer's 
leg or a piece of thread was passed through and kept there until the orifice 
was made and my recollection is that it was claimed that if the ears were 
pierced there would never be any danger of the girl having sore eyes. 

Of course the old time boys have all grown into manhood, many of 
them into old manhood and of the young fellows that I used to play with, 
many of them go on Sunday afternoons and play with their little grand- 
children, and this certaintly covers a long stretch of years. 

It was formerly believed and perhaps as much in Evansville as in any 
town in the country, that all boys were bad. This was not the case. The 
boys were not any worse than the boys of the present day but they were 
not hampered by all the restrictions which are now thrown around the 
children of almost the entire community. 

For instance now, the average boy is well and comfortably dressed, 
he does not go barefooted except in extreme warm weather and he knows 
what it is to not only wear a collar and tie, but to have his hair brushed 
and his face clean. He even attempts to put on a little style at times and 
is very particular as to whether tan shoes or black shoes are the most be- 
coming. He also pays more particular attention to the exact way in which 
his hair must be worn. I regret very much to say that there are many 
hundreds of boys in Evansville who are following a style which has long 
been obsolete in the East or in fact, any civilized part of the United States, 
in that they persist in pulling a great mop of greasy hair out on their fore- 
heads or parting their hair in the middle and pasting it down so as to nearly 
cover their eyes as possible. If they would take the trouble to look at the 
fashion plates or any photographs taken recently of young men in the East, 
they would see that this style of hair dressing has long been out of .date. 
Yet they persist in wearing these mops and tilting their hats either on the 
back of their heads or over on one side, all of which shows much absolute 
ignorance, as eating with one's knife or chewing with ones lips open. 
This was particularly called to my mind the other day by noting the cover 
page of the Popular magazine which pictured the seats filled with specta- 
tors at a great ball game. The great majority or in fact, 99 per cent of 
those whose faces were shown, wore their hats straight on the top of their 
heads and their hair did not show at all. But in the lot, were three or four 


of these greasy-fronted boys with caps stuck on the back of their heads 
and the make-up of their faces showed that they were bad characters. In 
fact, their low brows, high cheek bones, protruding ears, and cruel mouths, 
showed that they were descended from the very lowest grade of parents. 
Here was where heredity had set its mark again. 

But to drop the present day boy and get back to the old-time boy, he 
was a husky little fellow and as stated, cared very little what he wore, just 
so he did not transgress the laws of common decency. His one suspender 
which held up his short pants, was often held in place by a nail or thorn, 
while his straw hat was usually of the style now worn by farmers. Part 
of the time he wore his hat but generally he carried it in his hand or left 
it in some convenient lumber pile until ready to go home, as he considered 
it a useless article of apparel. An undershirt was unknown to him. A 
common "Hickory" shirt sometimes with a collar but usually without, was 
good enough for him and the rest of his attire consisted of his one pair of 
pants and generally they were colored either blue or walnut color by his 

He was not a bad little fellow at heart but he was up to all sorts of 
tricks and ten times as full of life as the boy of the present day, for he 
lived almost entirely in the open air. There was no bird's nest safe if his 
eagle eye ever saw the parent bird go to it. The few pigeons that were 
kept here then were supposed to be fair prey for him, and a boy who 
could most successfully sneak into a dovice and get away with tlie most 
pigeons was the king among his fellows. Of course all fruit trees belonged 
to him. The only point was that he must be smart enough to get the fruit 
without being caught and the early town people always expected that a 
certain percent of all their fruit and grapes and their strawberries, etc., 
would be taken by the small boy. This was as much a matter of fact, as 
the charging up of the profit and loss account of the merchant. 

These boys went in bands. They often made little excursions into the 
country when the roasting ears were ripe and the first corn fields gave 
them a splendid meal. They would build a fire in the woods and really 
the roasting ears cooked in the ashes were not bad to take. In wild 
cherry time every tree in the neighborhood was known as were also all 
the walnut trees and especially the pecan trees. They also gathered the 
papaw and the early May apple. In fact, anything that tasted good he 
went for, and it is strange in these days when parents are stricken with 
terror on learning that a child has actually eaten part of a green apple, to 
think back and remember that those youngsters would eat the very greenest 
of apples, green peaches, wild grapes or in fact, anything that did not set 
their teeth on edge, and a case of cholera morbus was almost unknown. 
This is something I have never been able to undersand, yet it is a fact as 
can be proven by everyone who lived here in the olden times. But the great 
feast days of the Evansville boys were when watermelons were ripe. They 
had melons every day. Other people might consider them luxuries, though 


good melons could be bought for 5c a piece and musk melons (for the 
cantaloupe was not very well known then) at two for 5c. But the boys 
never cared for them. Nobody grows them now. 

But to return, the others may have considered them luxuries, but the 
boys had them every day, and thought nothing of it. There were two 
schemes that were worked. One was called the "Store" scheme and the 
other the "running" scheme. The first one was worked about as follows: 

A gang of boys would lay their plans and go down below Pigeon creek 
past the old covered bridge, through which the great Posey county water- 
melons used to come in open wagons, for many farmers could not afford 
canvas tops. They would hide in the woods alongside the road and wait 
for the approach of a wagon. When one was discovered, the best dressed 
and best talking boy in the lot would step boldly out into the center of the 
road and the following conversation would occur: 

"Mister, do you want to sell that load of melons?" 
"Yes, my boy, they are for sale." 

"How much do you ask for them?" 

"Well, I don't know. I couldn't tell until I knew whether I could sell 
a few or the whole wagon load." 

"Well," the boy would say, "my father keeps a store on the corner of 
Fourth and Main streets and he sent me down to engage the first load of 
fine watermelons that came along. He wants a whole load and if you will 
sell them right, I will get up on the seat with you and show you right 
where to drive them." 

"All right, son, you are the one I have been looking for. I will go right 
to your father's store and I will sell this load to him right." 

So up would jump the boy and he would at once begin entertaining the 
farmer with all sorts of interesting stories about Evansville. In the mean- 
time, ever and anon, he would cast an eye to the rear to see that his com- 
panions were doing their share of the work. This consisted in slipping up 
to the back of the wagon while the farmer was deeply interested, and 
slipping a big melon over the tail board. This was quickly hidden in the 
weeds at the side of the road and several weeds bent down to mark the 
place. Others would be taken, until a signal would be given to the boy 
who was doing the talking and tlien he would make some excuse and sud- 
denly jump down from the seat and take off through the woods as hard as 
he could go. Of course the farmer would wonder what was the matter 
with the boy, but having heard or seen nothing he would only find that a 
number of his best melons were gone when he made his actual sale at some 
store up town. 

The other scheme was worked as follows: Several boys would go 
boldly up to a wagon and commence thumping the melons and would be 
roughly ordered away by the farmer who could see at once that there 
were no possible purchasers among them. The fastest runner of the boys 
would then slip to the back of the wagon and in plain sight of the farmer 


pick up a medium sized melon, which he could easily carry, and run off 
with it. All the other boys would yell, "Stealing melons, Stealing melons. 
Stop thief." The mad farmer would then try to hand the reins to one of 
the boys while he chased after the runaway. At any rate, nine times out 
of ten he would tear around the comer, hoping to catch the thief and the 
minute he passed it, each one of the others who were in the scheme would 
gobble a fine melon and run up some convenient alley from whence they 
would all go to a meeting place which had been arranged and enjoy a 
regular feast. Of course when the farmer neared the running boy he 
would drop the melon and climb over the nearest fence and escape by de- 
vious ways of which the farmer knew nothing. 

Another scheme was worked in the evening. A boy would go to the 
front door of the house where he was unknown and rap boldly and ask if 
Mr. Somebody lived there. He would attract the attention of the whole 
house by stating that his mother was sick and he wanted to get this Mr. 
So and So who was her brother, and between his sobs and questions, would 
hold the attention of the family, while his comrades jumped over the back 
fence and got away with as many grapes as they could carry. 

The strange thing is that they considered this perfectly legitimate. A 
boy of the olden times imagined that those things were grown for his 
benefit and he really did not think it dishonest to take them. In fact, it 
was considered an honor among the boys to be an expert and their parents 
of course never heard of their escapades. 

During the swimming season the old time boy was happy. To go in at 
nine in the morning and stay until noon and slip in for dinner with his 
hair dry and then slip out and spend the whole afternoon in the water, was 
nothing to him. Early in the season his back was the color of a pair of 
tan shoes from constant exposure to the sun. They were the most intrepid 
of swimmers. They thought nothing of gathering at a steam boat lying at 
the wharf and then with a sudden dash running up on to the boiler deck, 
back on the hurricane decks to the top of the big side wheels from which 
they would dive into the river. At that time there was a deep channel di- 
rectly in front of the city and there was no danger of their striking their 
heads. Such a thing as walking out from land was a thing unheard of. 
He wanted something exciting. It is strange, too, that while I know that 
parents loved their children in those days, there was no such care taken 
of them as there is now. A mother's worry over a short absence of her 
son was something unknown. It was presumed that children knew how 
to take care of themselves. If a boy left his home after breakfast and did 
not show up during the entire day, provided there was no wood to chop 
or kindling to split, no one in the family thought anything about it. If 
somebody asked the mother where little Bill was, she would reply that he 
had gone off somewhere that day with a lot of boys but would be back for 
supper all right and if -he did not get there in time to eat, he could just 
go to bed without it, for she did not intend to cook any hot supper for a 


boy that could not get home in time for his meals and that was about the 
only thought she ever gave it. 

Each section of the town had its squad of boys who were held to- 
gether by some sort of a bond of sympathy, probably brought about by 
living in the same neighborhood. Where there were say 20 boys living on 
two or three blocks, they banded together and were great friends, though 
they had their occasional fights to see who should be leader, for each 
crowd had its one leading spirit. For instance, a crowd living on First or 
Second streets would have nothing to do with a crowd living on Seventh or 
Eighth. They had no interest in common, never went swimming or nut- 
ting together and never played together. 

The "times" of the boys came as regularly as did the seasons. All of 
a sudden it would be top time and every boy who could manage to get hold 
of a top had one. I can remember when a top for sale in a store was a 
thing unknown, as was the painted or dyed top of any color, unless some 
boy's father or some relative happened to be a painter. There was one 
old German fellow who made the tops for the entire town and he did it 
with a simple turning lathe. Most of them were made of very straight 
hickory wood and were quite heavy and for points he filed ofif the heads 
of screws which he set in. The great game with the boys was "Bull ring" 
in which some adventurous spirit who had a good top would be the first 
one to spin his. After it was once spinning in the ring it was a mark for 
every other boy owned a top. The great desire of each one was hit 
the top hard enough to split it. So there would be at times a dozen tops 
all spinning in the ring. When a top rolled out of the ring when it "died" 
as the saying was, the owner could wind it up and "plug" any top that he 
saw, no matter how close it was to the edge of the ring. But if the top 
"died" and failed to roll out of the ring, it staid there until it was knocked 
out by the tops of some of the others. Then all of a sudden some fine 
morning, marble time would come, and boys would be seen down on their 
knees on every sidewalk, for there were few even brick sidewalks in those 
days. The old game was played with what was known as "taws" and 
"curbs," and a ring in the center in which each contestant placed his marbles. 
In playing "keeps" there were usually four contestants each one placing 
a marble in a ring in a straight line between taws and curbs and they 
"lagged," that is, they shot close to the "taw duck" which was the first 
marble in the ring, nearest the point from which they all shot. The one 
who lagged nearest a "taw duck" had the first shot and if he were a'good 
player, he could win the marbles of the other three without allowing them 
any shot at all. The winner of the last marble in the ring had what was 
called the "goes," which entitled him to the first shot in the next game. 
So while one boy might win three marbles while by a lucky shot another 
would win only one, yet by getting the last shot he would have the first 
shot in the new game. Everybody played "keeps." It was a light form 
of gambling but did not seem to hurt any of them. 


Then suddenly hoop time would come on and the boy with the iron 
hoop was a king among his fellows, for these hoops were generally bought 
in the shape of rods of iron at the old store of the Orr Iron Company at 
the comer of Water and Sycamore and taken to the blacksmith's shop of 
John Griess where the new Vendome hotel now stands, where they were 
welded together. Nobody thought of a stick with which to hit the hoops 
in those days. They were worked with an iron "sculler." That is a short 
piece of iron with a hook at one end and the hoops were driven by being 
pushed along by this "sculler." They could be run for squares and handled 
very deftly by these boys. 

The little girls of course had barrel hoops which they drove' with pieces 
of broom sticks as has been the custom from time immemorial, only I 
must say that the little Evansville girls did not look like these pictures that 
we see in the Sunday school books of the little girl driving her hoop. She 
did not wear her hair all done up in ribbons nor did she wear any panties 
that came down over her shoe tops. If she had, the girls would have 
thrown mud at her. She dressed as did the boys, in as few garments as 
possible and her hair was generally plaited and tied up with a shoe string 
or was shingled. In fact most of the girls in the old times had their hair 
shingled just as the boys did, because their mothers claimed that they 
had so much to do around the house, that they could not forever be comb- 
ing the kinks out of the hair. 

Kite time used to come and wonderful were the displays of the boys' 
handiwork in this direction. Some of them were born artists and some 
knew how to make a beautiful kite with light sticks and with such perfect 
proportions that it would always fly, while other poor fellows some of them, 
seemed to think that the very heaviest sticks were the best, because they 
would not break, and therefore weighted down their kites so that they 
could only be kept up by continuous running. But as a boy thought nothing 
of a run of a few blocks in those days, he had as much fun as anybody and 
the more dust he kicked up, the better, for be it remembered that in those 
days, Evansville possessed only one sprinkling wagon, or rather a barrel 
with a piece of leather hose and a sieve-like piece of sheet iron through 
which the water came. This was driven over Main street, which was 
deemed the most worthy of being kept watered. 

The favorite kite was the old three-stick kite and I can remember when 
the first bow kite ever seen in Evansville was sent up. It was made by 
Mr. William R. Baker, who has been spoken of as such a great cornet 
player, and who was also leader of the Crescent City band. He made a 
splendid bow kite and sent it up from the top of a high building and fas- 
tened it and much was the wonderment of the boys and men of Evansville 
for such a kite had never been seen in the Heavens before. 

But the greatest game of all was "Hum Bum" or "Old Man." This 
game was a great favorite in the upper part of the city and was played like 
the old game of hide and seek. All the players scattered out, leaving one 


at what was called "base," which was generally one of the big trees (that 
is in speaking of this particular crowd) at the side of the residence of John 
Ingle. The crowd scattered out over a territory of two to three squares 
and carefully hid themselves until time was up, when the base man could 
begin to hunt for them. After that it was a race to the base. If the hid- 
den boy got out of his hiding place and beat the searcher back, he won, 
but if the searcher even saw him and called his correct name and then beat 
him to the base, he lost. This particular crowd were about the wildest 
in the city and went over roofs and fences like cats. The fences such as 
would frighten the boys of the present day, but were nothing to them. They 
would crawl under the most diminutive front steps, crawl under huge piles 
of hay in hay lofts and were up to every trick that was known to the game. 
Robert, Heber and David Ingle, the latter now a prosperous grand-father, 
were the most active of the Ingle boys. Then there were Fotsy Hopkins, 
Skinner Hopkins, Mush Tenney, poor Bootsie Caldwell, Boots Wilcox, 
Alf Hughes, Billy Bell, Mort Blythe, Ferd, Eugene and Les Iglehart, Jim 
Goslee, and a lot of these boys who were ring leaders in that crowd. I 
never heard of a single accident that befell any of them. But it would be 
hard to tell how many fences were broken and yards and trees devastated 
by this crowd. There was a younger generation that grew up afterwards 
in the same neighborhood, but things had become more civilized and they 
paid more respect to property rights than did the old timers whom I have 











Evansville is a sociable city and always has been. In these days when 
we have our beautiful Elks' home, the Crsecent club, the Press club, the 
fine hotels and the various similar clubs, each with their attractive little 
homes, billiard and pool rooms scattered all over the city, the Y. M. C. A. 
which has done so much for the youth of Evansville, the German singing 
societies, the splendid quarters of Prof. Doerter and others too numerous 
to mention, there is every opportunity for a young man who happens to 
have no sweetheart to go and enjoy his evenings in good company and 
where his morals will be uncontaminated. But back in the old days these 
places were few and far between. With the exception of the Masons and 
the Odd Fellows, there were hardly any benevolent or fraternal organiza- 
tions and they met only once every two weeks. Therefore the young man 
as well as those of more mature years, were confined of an evening, after 
work was over, to a very few spots. One of these was the old Pavilion 
hotel which afterwards was known as the American house, and here in the 
office the genial Col. Drew was always ready to entertain his friends. Near 
him was the boat store of Philip Hombrook, one of the quaintest humorists 
who ever lived here. It was here that the old river men and trappers would 
flock of an evening and the fund of anecdote was inexhaustible. Up Main 
street the cigar store of the late Herman Fendrich, the father of Mr. John 
Fendrich, was always filled after supper. Here again was the cheerful 
stove in the winter and it seemed to be a regular meeting place for many 
of our old staid citizens. Just this side of the Citizens' National Bank 
Sam Grammer opened a restaurant with a billiard room in the second floor. 
This was about the first affair of the kind started in Evansville and great 
crowds of young men cotild be seen there every night. Later on Mr. Pres- 
cott, a brother of Mr. Fred Prescott, who for many years was with the late 


William Schellhorn, opened a fine billiard room in the building on the 
alley between First and Main streets, now occupied by the Catholic book 
store, and this place for a long time was nightly crowded with young men. 
About the first club started was the Diamond Club, the remaining members 
of which are all old gray-headed men. It had rooms in Chandler block 
and was considered quite the thing in those days. In fact, if a young man 
came here and was taken up by the Diamond club, that was all that was 
necessarj\ His social future was assured. The Germans built a hall 
called the Turner hall where Marsh & Scantlin bakery now stands, and it 
was there that they met nightly to drink their beer and sing the songs of 
the Fatherland. There was also a place near the E. & T. H. depot, the 
name of which I have forgotten. But it was at this place that all the 
railroad men congregated when they were oflf duty at night. There were 
quite a number of Englishmen among them and there are many who will 
remember old Polly Hopkins, as he was called, who was a great bird 
hunter in his day. Down below the creek they all went to the Belle View 
beer garden which was kept up for many years, while those who cared to 
go still further out, went to Kron's Vineyard up to the Babytown hill. 
When the new opera house was built, where the Orpheum now stands, 
Jim Hicks opened a nice biHlard room, which was also quite a resort for 
many years, until it was eclipsed by the St. George billiard room, which 
formerly occupied the entire space under the dining room, the bar being 
back next to the alley. Many big matches were played here and of course 
the rotunda of the hotel, from the very time of the building of the place, 
was also a great place to sit in the evening and meet one's friends. About 
this same time Simon Kohn opened a large place where the Acme hotel 
now stands. He had a fountain in the center and the place was quite pop- 
ular for many years. A very popular place was the Apollo Garden, which 
was opened by John Albecker some thirty-five years ago. This was at first 
an open garden and was afterwards roofed and turned into a variety show 
and it was a good one. Mr. Albecker bought out his partner, Mr. Seiffer, 
and for a number of years made money very fast. But after he gave it 
up, it was many years before a variety show again became a money maker 
in Evansville. In fact, what is known as the vaudeville show of today 
and which is perhaps the most popular show in America, is simply an out- 
growth of the old-time variety shows. It was on the old Apollo stage that 
such men as Hugh Fay, who afterwards showed all over this countiy, and 
Charles Gardner, who also put on a play of his own for many years, made 
their first appearances and it was at this show that the great Pauline Mark- 
ham, who years before had set New York wild at the time of the advent 
of the "Black Crook" on Broadway, gave one of her farewell performances. 
It was hard to realize that the very fleshy, passe woman who appeared 
there was once the dashing Pauline Markam on whom thousands of dol- 
lars' worth of flowers were thrown away in New York city. Here it was 
that Mclntyre and Heath once performed, and many others who are now 



shining lights in the vaudeville profession. Another quiet little place where 
the boys used to congregate, was the cigar store which stood where is now 
the rear part of the Good Clothes Shop at Main and Second streets. This 
was kept by James S. Goslee, who afterwards became interested in mines. 
Another place was what afterward became the Tribune building and is 
known as the B. & B. Laundr>', the cigar store which was run by Billy 
Stockwell, a brother of Mr. Charles Stockwell who is now in the cigar 
business here. One of the old restaurants was kept by Peter Burke and 
while one would naturally assume from the name that he was an Irishman, 
this was not a fact. He was a German born. I can remember that when 
I was a mere child he had the reputation of being able to turn out the best 
restaurant meals in Evansville. I do not remember where he kept at that 
time, but later on his place was where John Byrnes' barber shop stands 
now, next to the Acme hotel. It was here that I remember my old friend, 
Gus Glesige, as a mere boy, and Joe Burke, whom ever}'one knows, as a 
youngster. This was a favorite lounging place of an evening and in those 
days it was a peculiar fact that ladies hardly ever visited a restaurant. 
Their meals were either cooked at home or they went directly to a hotel and 
to see a lady sitting in any restaurant in Evansville in the early days would 
create more or less talk. This probably arose from the fact that most of 
them had bars connected with them and in such a manner that they were 
not as perfectly screened as at present. The Lottie, which was started by 
Joseph Myers, commonly known as Joe Boots, was also a great resort. 
But in those days it was never frequented by ladies. He built up a mag- 
nificent trade there and the building was greatly improved until it is now a 
strictly first-class European hotel. But I can well remember when all the 
business was conducted in only one room on the alley. It was here that 
Mr. Rudolph Geiss served so many years, though I remember him first as 
a bright-eyed little boy who first began working for Mr. Hicks in the first 
opera house and billiard room. The place of Captain Ellis on Third street 
just this side of the old Apollo theatre, and long before the latter was 
thought of, was a great resort for the German people and there was always 
music and singing every night, except on drill nights when Captain Ellis 
looked on everything else as a secondary consideration. 

Evansville was always a musical city and this can be well proved when 
it is stated that she had a brass band as early as the year 1837. During 
that year an organization known as The Evansville Band was formed. 
Floyd Bullock, an old citizen, who lived here a great many years, played 
the bass drum. Geo. W. Amory who owned much real estate, played the 
B flat clarinet, William Feleston, the trombone, T. N. Stinson, the bass 
drum and Charles Tileston, the tenor. The music of course was not up to 
the standard of the present day, but they were all good musicians by instinct 
and the band remained in existence until 1846, some changes of course hav- 
ing taken place. In 1850 William R. Baker came here and was the first 
man in Evansville to play an E-flat comet. He was locomotive engineer 


for the E. & T. H. and from 1853 to 1857 he used to come off the train 
and without stopping to even wash up, met with the band boys and played 
until 1 1 o'clock and then go home. Prof. George Warren, one of the great- 
est musicians this section of the country ever knew, lived at that time, 
in New Harmony, but he thought a great deal of the Evansville boys and 
frequently came over to play with them. W. R. Baker gave up railroading 
and went into partnership with Samuel E. Gilbert in the wholesale grocery 
business. He was one of the most tireless workers ever known and spent 
every moment of his spare time in writing down band music, for in those 
days the notes were not printed at all but were written by the pen. Per- 
sonally when a boy I have even seen Mr. Baker go without his dinner, 
simply to get ahead on band music. At 12 o'clock he would get his little 
band books together and retiring to some secluded part of the store, he 
would get behind a pile of boxes where he would not be interrupted and 
work like a trooper until one o'clock, when he was supposed to be on duty 
again. I never saw any instrument that he could not play. He soon went 
on the road for S. E. Gilbert & Co., and was soon one of the best salesmen 
that ever lived in this city. He seemed to have a line of customers whom 
nobody could get away from him and it was not until long years after- 
wards when I became a man and took my turn over the road, that I found 
that Mr. Baker held a great portion of his trade through being able to play 
the violin so sweetly. When he would get to a little country town every- 
body looked for an evening of music and of course he played in the stores 
where he sold goods and he was shrewd enough to generally get his order 
before playing, giving as a reason, that he could play a great deal better 
when his work was all done. He remained with the store for a good many 
years and kept up his music until close to the time of his death. Just 
after the war began Professor Warren organized the 15th regiment band. 
This consisted of 24 members and many like Charles Tileston and George 
M. Gates, had belonged to the old band. They went out for some reason 
in 1862 and then the famous Warren's Crescent City band was incorpo- 
rated. This band made a wonderful reputation and won numerous prizes 
whenever it came into competition with other bands. I played the snare 
drum in this band for a time, but was afterwards superseded by John Mes- 
sick, who went into the army and his place was taken by a tall German boy, 
John Kauffer. At this time I was the drum major of a sheepskin band, 
under the auspices of the Evansville Rifles and being at their call, had to 
give up my place in the band. I remember how badly I wanted to go to 
the war with them, but my father was so forcible in his objection, that I 
stayed home especially as he told me in a decided way that the war was all 
right but it did not need any boys and if ever I ran away and joined the 
army, I never need darken his door again. This was about enough for me. 
James Farrow, who lived here for so many years, was bass drummer 
jn the Crescent City band and afterwards Lewis Sihler, whose ability to 
pound the drum was never doubted. The late Nicholas Elles was a mem- 


ber of this band and also Mr. Heeger, who took the base tuba at the time 
George M. Gates left the city. John Reimer who still lives here, was a 
consistent member of this band and a hard worker. Theodore Pfafflin, 
who removed to Indianapolis was another and James T. Cox, who died in 
1896 from sunstroke, was a cornet player. He was not, however, a charter 
member of the band. 

Otto Pfafflin played the second E-flat and Ed. Gordon, who was acci- 
dentally killed on a street car, played the first B cornet. There are many 
who will remember the old firm of Warren and Connyngton, which was 
just back of the Richmond hotel, that on tlie summer evenings Prof. George 
Warren and Ed. Gordon would go to the roof of their building and play 
most beautifully. People would gather in crowds at the foot of Water 
street just to hear them, for they were both marvelous musicians. The 
late Theo. W. Venneman was also in this band and Philip Klein played the 
first alto for years. John Scantlin, who died many years ago, played the 
bass horn and Waher Ruhe, who was also a traveling man for S. E. Gilbert 
& Co., played the tuba horn. As Prof. Warren's little son grew up, he nat- 
urally took to the snare drum and played for years with this band and 
another fine musician who was not among the charter members was Prof. 
William Buck, formerly in the jewelry business in a part of what is now 
the City National Bank. He was also a band leader. During the absences 
of Prof. Warren and William R. Baker he played the E-flat cornet. In 
1868 he organized a new band, called the Helicon because they used the 
Helicon instruments which had just come on to the market. He was a 
most genial gentleman and a great musician who was much loved by all 
who knew him. He afterwards moved to Rockport where he died. This 
was the original band of the city of Evansville, and though its member- 
ship has gradually changed, it is still the old band and probably will always 
be known as such. There have been various other bands started since then. 
A number of young men in 1895 organized what was known as Haynies 
cornet band and in 1896 the F. W. Cook military band was organized, 
with Mr. Gus Bohrer, a splendid musician, as leader. Strouse' High Art 
band was organized early in 1896 and for years delighted audiences with 
its free concerts from the balcony of Strouse Brothers store on Main 
street. To the bands of Evansville which so kindly gave their aid, much 
of the success of Sunset park is due. The building of the band stand 
which formerly stood near the old Sycamore tree, was a matter of small 
moment but the beautiful music rendered by these bands who so kindly 
volunteered their services was what drew the immense crowds from all 
parts of the city and caused the city of Evansville people to finally realize 
what a river park meant. 

In the early days when Evansville really had no public hall of any kind 
and no place of gathering except the court room, naturally there were 
never any socials and the amusements were few and far between. They 
consisted of little social parties held at the various houses that were large 


enough to accommodate a gathering of any size, but for many long years, 
nothing in the way of music or amateur theatricals was attempted. It was 
only after the advent of a great many of the German population who had 
been used to these things in their native land, that an attempt was made to 
build a theatre. Subscriptions were gotten up and aided by a great many 
of the American citizens, the Germans built what was known as the Mozart 
hall, which stood directly on First street where the Ichenhauser's queens- 
ware house now stands. It was a two-story brick with rooms upstairs in 
which the family of the keeper of the hall resided and also several rooms 
which were used by the few German actors and actresses who came here 
from time to time. The building did not extend to the alley and the stage 
was a very small one, but sufficient for all purposes of that day. The seats 
were chairs which could be moved to make room for dancing and the first 
public dances given in Evansville were at this place. The Germans at that 
time had a sort of dramatic society and gave entertainments from time to 
time and later on, finding the quarters too small, built the old Turner hall 
which was on the grounds occupied by the Marsh & Scantlin bakery. Mr. 
M. A. Lawrence, who was the first marble-yard man who located here, 
built Marble hall which stands just across from the old National Bank 
and this was used also for performances, though the stage was even smaller 
than that of Mozart hall. It was badly arranged and was on the third floor 
and was never a very popular building. At the time that the little church 
on the hill, the first church building in Evansville, was torn down, what is 
known as the congregation of Walnut Street Presbyterian church used this 
hall for their services while the new church was being built. It was also 
used for the first performances ever given by home talent here, a minstrel 
organization gotten up by Sile Weed, a painter who was quite a good negro 
performer and who got his company together here and gave several exhi- 
bitions before going on the road. At about this same time the Commercial 
hall just across from the Eichel block was built and this was the most 
popular place in the town, though one had to ascend to the third story to 
reach it. There was no stage here, it being nothing but a platform, and 
whoever occupied it was compelled to make wings, etc., out of canvas to 
hide the sides of the stage from the audience. There was also a little gal- 
lery at the read end. This hall afterwards became one of the popular 
dancing halls of Evansville, although the room known as Warren's hall, 
which was the third floor over the L. & N. offices down town, was also 
very popular. The first outside company who visited Evansville was known 
as Buckley's serenaders, an English company who were touring this coun- 
try and had wandered to the little town. They gave a very good perform- 
ance but when their clog dancers came on they were compelled to stop 
dancing as the stage was so flimsy that the boards kept giving under their 
feet. One can imagine how crude were the stages of that day. I also 
remember a company who came here and produced what was known as 
the Marble statue. This was the first exhibition of a female in a com- 


plete suit of fleshings that had ever appeared and many of the people of 
the place were outspoken in their denunciations of so vile a performance, 
but the descendants of the same people look today on double rows in the 
pony ballet and think nothing of it. This shows how tastes change as we 
become educated. 

But I am getting away from my subject. One great social affair was 
the quilting bee and another the corn husking. At the quilting bee the 
neighbors all gathered at the house of some lady and assisted her in mak- 
ing a quilt. This afterwards changed into a sewing society to which all 
the ladies belonged and which met every week at the house of one of the 
members to do sewing for the poor. Of course the husking bees were 
held at the big farmhouses when, as was the case in town, there was always 
a bountiful supper with sometimes dancing. At these husking bees the 
married people and the young folks all joined together and if a married 
lady succeeded in getting a red ear, the fact that she wore a wedding ring 
could cut no ice, for she was expected to be kissed just the same as the 
young girls and I never heard of any instance to which any objection was 
made either by the lady or her husband. In those days these things were 
expected and again this shows how tastes change. Young girls in those 
days thought nothing of taking their beaus' arms in daylight, and holding 
hands. I believe both of these things are considered wrong just at pres- 
ent. It was about the year 1854 that the Evansville people began to look 
for some kind of new social entertainment and decided to get up a series 
of masquerades and these were quite in vogue for several years. There 
were quite a number of larger concerts held at the various halls, espe- 
cially at Crescent City hall. There were good voices here in those days but 
quite a lack of musical instruments, such a thing as an orchestra being 
absolutely unknown. I can remember when there were hardly a dozen 
pianos in the city of Evansville but people had melodeons. About the be- 
ginning of the war a military drama was given at the Turner hall and 
was so successful that it was repeated several times. Bob McGrew was 
one of the leading spirits. When the war first broke out the Indianapolis 
Zouaves were located here and gave a series of entertainments at Marble 
hall, and at the same place were the first puppets ever shown in Evansville. 
The show pictured various battles with soldiers and even puppet horses 
and then changed to sea scenes where miniature battleships of that day and 
the monitors were shown. I remember that the capture of the Merrimac 
was one of the chief attractions of the show. During the war there was 
an attempt made to start an American theatre. The company was made up 
of some residents and some outside talent, who gave such plays as East 
Lynne, etc., at the Mozart hall. Afterwards there was a stock company 
at the Metropolitan theatre at First and Main streets and such old actresses 
as Lola Montez, Fannie B. Price, Molly Williams who was assisted by 
Felix Vincent, a great comedian of that day, all appeared. After Mr. 
Golden and his wife, the much-loved Bella Golden, opened the theatre, a 


regular performance was given each night all through the season. The 
company was small but all members were capable of doubling up. The 
French Spy was one of their chief plays and was produced here many times. 
What is now Grace church gave a performance in the Metropolitan theatre 
at which the McDougall brothers, two young men who had come here 
from Canada, took a leading part, and I think that this was my first ap- 
appearance on any stage. I did what was known as the horizontal bar 
brother act with the late Mr. Wallis Glover in the first part and played 
Distaflfena. a young woman decorated with much false blond hair, in the 
second part. These afTairs occurred before any one thought of building 
an opera house. It was finally decided that Evansville was large enough 
to have an opera house suitable to its size. The ground was purchased at 
the corner of First and Locust streets and the building, which in those days 
was first-class, was put up. Its opening was quite an event for the city 
and all the shows that were put on there were very successful. The Geif.- 
mans gave many entertainments there when they found their own hall was 
not large enough and there were two musical and dramatic societies founded 
— the Lyric and the Ideals. These two organizations contained some very 
fine talent. In fact, there were voices in them which could have made 
their mark on the operatic stage. They did not hesitate to produce the 
very best of opera and operettas of the day, and played the Grand Duchess 
and operas of that class. The first real home-talent amateur concert, as it 
might be called, was that of Queen Esther, which was given at the opera 
house by the choir of Walnut Street church. Miss Lizzie Shanklin, Mrs. 
C. K. Drew, Mrs. Blythe Hynes, Mrs. Jenny McGinnis and others who 
possessed remarkably good voices, took part in this. Shortly after this 
Grace church produced the Ten Virgins in vvhich some of the most beau- 
tiful girls in Evansville took part. It was in the early '70s that a number 
of young men decided to produce the burlesque of Romeo and Juliet, a play 
with no women in it. There were really only two women, Juliet supposed 
to be 16 years of age but 40 years old in wisdom, and her nurse, a quaint 
old creature who got in everybody's way. Mr. Ford Dodd, one of our 
prominent young men, took the nurse at first and afterwards this was played 
by Dr. Charles Archer, who made quite a hit with it. Juliet was played 
by the writer. Whether or not the caste was a good one, they had the 
satisfaction of sending a check for $1,000 to the yellow fever sufferers of 
Memphis, which was the result of one night's performance. This old 
play was kept up for several years. Whenever the boys wanted some fun 
they would produce this play and they never played it twice the same way. 
It was in this that the Honorable Charles G. Covert first showed his ability 
as a comedian and he was one of the best ever seen here. In fact, I never 
saw him in a part that he did not take well. Miss Mary Linck, whose reputa- 
tion is well known both in this country and in Europe, made her first ap- 
pearance at this old opera house and though given but a few lines, she 
scored such a success that the papers the ne.xt day spoke in glowing terms 


of her work and predicted a great future for her. All through these days 
the various churches found that the people were more ready to go to en- 
tertainments than to church socials and gave all sorts of musical and dra- 
matic entertainments. Grace church gave "An Evening with Mother 
Goose" in which Mr. George Clifford had a star part. In 1879 the church 
gave "Mrs. Jarvis Wax Works" at Evans hall to a crowded house. It was 
in 1882 that "Fun in a Country School" was first produced. It was writ- 
ten in the Argus office and while there are today several books called "The 
Deestrict School," etc., they are nothing like the original "Fun in a Coun- 
try School." It was in this that Mr. Ed Dillon, a bright newspaper man, 
Mr. A. J. Miller, a natural comedian, Charles F. Worthington and others 
made their first hits. This little play was rendered no less than fifteen 
times in Evansville for diflFerent charities or for benevolent orders and it 
was always played to a packed house. There were so many in the audi- 
ence in those days who remembered the old school days when Evansville 
was a little town, that the thing appealed to them. The part of the teacher 
was simply a reprodutcion of the way Daddy Knight used to teach school 
and even the make-up of the teacher's face was an exact reproduction of 
that highly-esteemed but much-feared educator. St. Paul's church put on 
a beautiful piece of work at the Grand. Little Lord Fauntleroy was ar- 
ranged from the original book. The staging for this production was the 
most beautiful ever seen here, as many of the most artistic homes in Evans- 
ville furnished the furniture for the setting and for the garden scene the 
most beautiful women in Evansville, decked in their most gorgeous array, 
took part. It is an admitted fact that in real stage finish this production 
exceeded anything ever given in Evansville. Master Paul and Miss Evelyn 
McNeeley were the heavenly twins and little Lord Fauntleroy was taken 
by Miss Josephine Foster, now Mrs. Clarence Leich. It was in this play 
that the friends of Mrs. Clarence Hinkle realized what strong dramatic 
talent she possessed. 

The Jewish citizens got up the Progress club and while it was originally 
for the male members of Jewish society, it gave many very handsome en- 
tertainments. Many of these were given in their own hall, which occupied 
the third floor of the Eichel block, but they also appeared at the Grand. 
Their performances were always first-class and at various times they em- 
ployed professional actors to instruct and also to assist them in staging 
their plays. A beautiful affair was the Bazaar of Nations given at Evans 
hall by St. Paul's church. At this all the different nations were repre- 
sented in various booths, while at the same time the musical performances 
were given. Floradora, as put on by a number of young people at Evans 
hall, was also a beautiful production and I believe that out of the original 
eight who took part, only one old bachelor remains, the rest being happily 
married. During all this time the German element were doing their share 
in the way of amateur theatricals, etc. Prof. Waltz put on the operatic 
Incognito in German at the old opera house and in this Mrs. Ame Morgan 


Viele took the part of leading soprano and sang it in the German language. 
She also appeared with the Liedercranz at the same opera house. Prior 
to this time, however, the Gemians played the Czar and the Carpenter and 
were very successful in their rendition of it. I think the second perform- 
ance, however, that was ever given here was in i860, when an amateur 
concert was given in the old Commercial hall. This was just after the 
war broke out and the programme was chiefly of war songs and Miss Kate 
Glover made the hit of the evening by singing "Brave Boys Were They." 
All during the war there were little performances of various kinds gotten 
up by charitable people as there was always some need for help and chiefly 
by the wounded soldiers who were in the first old hospital which was the 
building now occupied by the John Hubbard Seed Company. While the 
government did all in its power to help these poor fellows, there were many 
delicacies that reached them, that were the result of these little perform- 
ances given by kind-hearted citizens. The Evansville of today has vastly 
improved. There is talent galore of every description and chiefly in the 
musical line and with its numerous fine places of amusement and the num- 
berless young people who are adepts both in music and in acting, it is 
possible for almost any church or benevolent society, or in fact, a little 
group of friends, to get up an amateur performance and get one on very 
short notice, but I have spoken of the old-time days before even grease 
paint was invented and when the art of making up was known only to a 
favorite few. There was not a solitary piano in Evansville until the year 
1836 and even in 1850 there were only about two melodeons. I think at 
that time there were two citizens who played the flute but it was almost 
an unknown instrument here. They both were Eastern men. There was 
also one bass viol but of other musical instruments there were none except 
the fiddles, which were numerous in all sections of the country. This first 
piano which was brought to Evansville belonged to Miss Wilson, who af- 
terwards married Mr. William Reilly, an old citizen. In speaking of this 
first instrument, Mrs. Reilly was fond of telling of the sensation it created. 
It was an odd looking affair with six legs and of course, as compared with 
the piano of the present day, lacked much in tone but the woodwork was 
simply marvelous, as viewed at the present. It was made in 1829 in Al- 
bany, New York. Mrs. Reilly stated that the farmers came in from miles 
around to see this strange instrument and after hearing her play on it, 
would vigorously lick their lips as if it was something too good to say 
anything about. This piano, if the family would part with it, would bring 
an enormous price and, as a furniture dealer remarked, "If that piano were 
exhibited in Tiffany's window on Broadway, it would not remain there 
one day before it was sold." 

Evansville now has four first-class places of amusement. They are all 
located in the center of the city, convenient to the street cars and traction 
lines. Naturally the Grand which is the most handsome building in the lot, 
will always be considered by our people, as the place for high-class attrac- 


tions. It would be hard to forget the triumphs that occurred in this beau- 
tiful opera house in the days when it was first built, and until such a day 
comes when the city is so large that an immense opera house will be needed, 
the Grand will always have its warm friends. And when it was built, it 
was considered by some of the best critics in the country, to be as perfect 
an opera house of its size as had ever been built in America. The accous- 
tics are very perfect. The lower house is short enough to bring the audience 
well up to the stage, while the family circle and the balcony are well ar- 
ranged. Exits are good and the stage very large and well supplied, not 
only with scenery but with electric appliances of every kind, so that it is 
absolutely competent to handle any attraction of no matter what magni- 
tude, that may come to Evansville. The new Majestic on 5th street near 
the terminal of the dummy line, and the Wells Bijou on 3rd street, were 
built more with a regard to furnish nice houses for cheap attractions which 
might be run daily, than with any regard to architectural beauty or per- 
haps internal beauty of finish, though they both have very nicely finished 

The Orpheum which stands where the old first opera house was put 
up on First and Locust, has been given over to a cheaper class of enter- 
tainment of late and film shows have been in great favor for the last year. 
The trouble with this house lies in the stage. There is not sufficient room 
on the stage floor for star dressing rooms, neither are there upper star 
rooms and underneath the stage, the rooms are not what they might be. 
Still for the companies which have played there, the accommodations have 
been amply sufficient. It is highly probable that this theatre will continue 
to be run for the benefit of the masses who cannot afford high-priced at-, 
tractions. Any one who has seen the enormous crowds which often fill 
the street in front of an evening, can gain some idea of how popular the 
little theatre is. 

During the summer months it has become quite a thing among our 
people to take the street railway rides not only to get the evening breeze, 
but to visit some place of amusement of a medium priced rate, where the 
evening can be spent. Oak Summit park has taken the lead in furnishing 
amusement of this class, and though the stage is not a large one it is suf- 
ficient for vaudeville purposes. There is never any intent on the part of 
the management to put on very large companies. In fact, their idea seems 
to have been to give first-class vaudeville entertainments and in this they 
are estimating the public correctly, for this class of entertainment is taking 
a great hold on the people in the large cities. If the patronage increases 
as it bids fair to do, the company has ample means to erect either a much 
larger building or extend it and change it in other respects and build a 
large and commodious stage, on which attractions of a high order can be 







(By F. M. Gilbert.) 

We of the present generation, understand thoroughly what a hold the 
great National game of base ball has upon the American people. While 
we are not all fans in the strict sense of the word, it is hard to find any one 
in these days, who is not more or less posted on the game. And even when 
they have no knowledge of any of the points of the game, their civic pride, 
in these days of the hot contests between various cities, makes them watch 
the papers eagerly to see what strides the home team is making. There 
are many who even watch the records of the great teams of the United 
States and are able to give from memory, the standing of the same. 

There are some, however, who care nothing for it but this would hold 
good regarding any game, for they are generally those whose duties pre- 
vent them from taking time to either take part in or even witness any con- 
test of skill or dexterity, but to one who sits in a newspaper office and hears 
the incessant ringing of the 'phone after every game, and the universal 
query, "What was the score?" it appeals with a great deal of force, and 
the tired reporter often hangs up the hook with muttered words to himself 
and wonders if there is anybody in he city of Evansville who is not in- 
terested in base ball. Again the crowds which flock to witness the different 
games here, when the contest becomes close, are greater than those which 
could be gotten together to hear the greatest speaker in the world. If the 
greatest speaker in the United States were to come here any day and be 
thoroughly advertised as to the delivery of a speech, and on the same by 
way of example, the Evansvilles and the Terre Hautes should be playing 
a deciding game, it is a safe venture that there would be three times as 
many voters at the ball, park as at the speaking. And it is a fact known 
to very few, that away back in the early history of Evansville, ball was 
the most popular game. But it was then called town ball. On every Sat- 
urday at 12 o'clock the great majority of the wholesale and retail houses 


closed their doors and the merchants would go to a large vacant common 
which now is filled up by Chandler Avenue, Blackford Avenue and Mul- 
berry street, there to engage in a game of town ball. Among the best play- 
ers of that time were John Wymond, who for many years was in the paper 
business here, William E. Hollingsworth, Thomas J. Hollingsworth, Ed- 
ward E. Law, Dr. I. Haas, the late Wiley Little, Samuel E. Gilbert, Henry 
Dodge, Billy Caldwell, Billy Baker, John S. Hopkins and a number of 
others who were the leading men of Evansville in those days. The play- 
ers used a large rubber ball, solid and almost the same size as the league 
ball now in use. To catch the ball on the bounce or after it had hit the 
ground the first time, was considered perfectly fair. This would be a joke 
at present. There was only one base or home plate where the batter stood. 
There was only one batter of course and no catcher and the game was 
simply like batting flies for practice at any league park, with this exception. 
Whenever the fielder (and they were all fielders except the man who stood 
at the bat,) caught the ball either before it struck the ground or before it 
struck the ground the second time, he marched in, took his place at the bat 
and tossing up his own ball (for there were no pitchers), knocked it as far 
as he could. The great point of skill was in knocking the ball so that it 
would not bounce. In other words, in knocking grounders or in knocking 
it as far as he could, so that the fielders could not catch it on the bounce 
from where they were stationed. I remember that my father, the late 
Samuel E. Gilbert, took a great interest in the game and would as soon 
have missed the Sunday morning choir as he could his Saturday afternoon 
ball game and he imagined that he was a great catcher, but one day he 
got directly under a high fly which slipped through his hands and struck 
him exactly on the bridge of the nose and for two weeks he had about the 
worst pair of black eyes ever seen in the city of Evansville. This club 
played for several years and even after base ball had gotten a start some 
of these old timers imagined that the new game would be equally as simple 
as the old one. So on a certain afternoon a lot of the old merchants, all 
of whom had been town ball players, challenged the clerks for a game. 
This was pie for the clerks, but the old timers did not know it. We all 
went to the park and I suppose through having a relative in the game, I 
was selected as pitcher and used nothing but a plain drop ball, but there 
was not one of those old timers who hit any closer than about one foot from 
it, and they actually had the nerve to order me from the plate on the 
grounds that I was not playing fair. When their turn came to pitch, what 
we did to those straight balls was good and plenty. I do not remember 
the score, but I do remember that that was the last time the old timers ever 
challenged any of the younger generation. They seemed to realize that 
things had changed since their day. It was in the '50s that Charlie Wentz 
a dashing young college graduate from the east, came here and was ap- 
pointed agent of the Adams Express Company, which was then in Chandler 
block where the barber shop now is. He was the first one to introduce the 


regular game of base ball in this city and was assisted by the late Emerson 
B. Morgan, also an eastern man, and George Bartlett, the young member 
of the firm of John H. Bartlett & ,Co., who were in the dry goods business 

This was in the year 1866. I do not remember just where they first 
played but it was on the open grounds and a huge back stop of boards 
was put up just behind the catcher. The game at that time was new, even 
in the east and the rules far different from what they are at the present. 
The pitcher had a great deal better show as did the batter and such scores 
as two to one or even 10 to 5 were unheard of. They generally ran be- 
tween the 2o's and the 5o"s. 

It was in 1882 that Evansville first had a regular semi-professional 
ball team and the first grounds were at Bedford park which was the ground 
this side of the tri-state fair grounds. A professional pitcher and catcher, 
Messrs. Hungler and Strueve were engaged. Among the players were Ed. 
Heberer who played center field. Sham Scheurer, who afterwards joined 
professional ranks, Al Vogel and Arth Saunders, who was then and is 
today, the best pitcher ever turned out in this section of the country. These 
grounds were never laid out very well and the grand stand was a frail af- 
fair, which, during an exciting game one afternoon, fell down. It was 
crowded with people and the entire supports gave way with one crash but 
so closely were the people packed that the only accident was the breaking 
of the ankle of one of the spectators. It was always a great wonder that 
many were not killed but the stand seemed to sink down towards the earth 
instead of breaking apart and this accounted for the lack of serious acci- 
dents. In 1883 and 1884 a new park was used at the corner of Mary- 
land streets and the Belt railroad. Here we had a professional team man- 
aged by Billy Harrington, and Ollie Beard, who afterwards became a great 
player, and Lem Sowders, Red Bittman and Decker, who afterwards be- 
came a great catcher, all played with this team. Decker was the inventor 
of the first big mitt ever used by a catcher, and made a fortune out of 
it. He afterwards played in several big eastern teams. Walton Goldsby 
played left field and the great Sam Thompson who became such a star, 
played center field. Dan O'Leary, the pedestrian, afterwards became man- 
ager of the team and their club house was in the brick building which stood 
back of a beautiful front yard between Jacob Meyer's saloon and, the 
E. B. A. building on Second street. This house was built originally by a 
Mr. Fatman, who came here from the east in the great tobacco days and 
was sold by him to George P. Hudspeth, the father of Mrs. Edwin Walker 
and Mrs. Mina Laughlin, who at that time was a very wealthy man and 
who engaged in the tobacco business and the wholesale dry goods business 
after his removal to this city. 

This club of which I have just spoken was composed of crack ball 
players. They did not belong to any league but they beat the great Union 
Pacific team, went to Louisville and St. Louis and beat their teams and 


then to Cincinnati, where they beat the crack Cincinnati team which at 
that time was supposed to be the best team in the west. Since that time 
Evansville has been represented in the Southern, the Three I and the Cen- 
tral leagues. One of our old managers was Phil Reccius of Louisville, who 
played third base for several seasons here. Among the managers have 
been Ollie Beard, Al Schellhase, who developed into a magnificent ball 
player and held high positions all through the east, until through an acci- 
dent he lost his eye, Tom News, Jimmie Ryan, Punch Knoll, a home prod- 
uct, Walton Goldsby and Stallings, who is now with the New England 
Highlanders. It is a matter of fact that Arth Saunders who now resides 
here, pitched the first curved ball ever pitched in Evansville. It was an 
invention of his own. When he felt like pitching there was no team that 
ever had any show against him. He had what they called a Floater. : He 
would throw a couple of very swift balls and then releasing his thumb 
hold, would send a floater with the same arm action that he used on the 
others, but this ball was very deceptive and the batter would strike at it 
before it reached him. Saunders and Schellhase had golden opportunities. 
They were in demand everywhere. A southern gentleman who happened 
to see them pitch in Evansville and was completely thunderstruck with 
their battery work, was in Selma a few weeks afterwards when Selma 
and some other southern cities were in the midst of a hot contest. He 
told some of the magnates of the Selma team of the wonderful battery of 
boys that he saw in Evansville, Indiana, and told them that if they could 
secure them, they could wipe out any team in the south. They at once 
wired Saunders for terms and as I happen to know this incident, here it is. 

Schellhase was a furniture turner by trade and was hard at work turn- 
ing out bed posts, when Arth went down to see him. When Arth showed 
him the telegram, his eyes nearly popped out of his head and he said, "Now 
here is a chance for us but we musn't ask too much." 

"About what do you think would be right?" asked Saunders. 

"About $25 a month apiece," replied Al. 

At this Saunders sneered and said, "If they want us bad enough to 
wire for us, we might as well just ask for $100 for the two and be done 
with it." 

Al could not agree with him for this seemed like an enormous sum 
for those days and urged him to wire back that they would work for $50 
and then said to Saunders, "If they refuse to give that, ask $40. That is 
mighty good wages." 

Saunders agreed to this but came down town and wired, "Terms $100 
a month and all expenses." 

Tliey were accepted like a flash. The boys went down there and Selma 
not only beat her rival but every other team in the south that they could 
get to go against them. After that this battery was in great demand but 
Saunders had decided not to take up ball playing as a business, so the 


partnership dissolved and Al went east where he made quite a record as 
noted above. 

In 1879 the Argus team was started. They were all young men and 
were supposed to represent the Argus newspaper. There were two pitch- 
ers Min Saunders, brother of Arth Saunders, and Dick Quimbeck, who 
lived in Lamasco and who had wonderful speed but pitched a straight 
ball. Frank Schneider played first base. The late Joe Steele who was then 
a slim youngster, played center field, while Ed. McNeely was catcher. This 
little team won quite a number of victories and one day beat the profes- 
sional Vincennes team, getting $90 for their afternoon's work which was 
considered quite a fortune by the boys, who were none of them afflicted 
with too much riches. Ed. McNeely and Jack Chandler in their younger 
days were two as good little ball players as could be found anywhere. They 
were both good hitters and when it came to fielding there were few pro- 
fessionals who could beat them. Another good ball player was Jimmy 
Best, and Phil Veatch was also a good one before he took on flesh. Dick 
Stickenbaum was a hard hitter and his favorite stunt was to turn a back 
somersault out in the field every time one of our boys made a good play. 
The Haas boys were all good players and seemed to inherit this from their 
father. The older brother of Punch Knoll was a good player and these 
boys inherited their love for athletics from their father, who often practiced 
on the horizontal bar with me when I was a youngster. As it is now, the 
city has many amateur teams, many of which are capable of making good 
scores and every little while this city turns out a professional who if he 
does not make good here, gets a good position in some other club. Jack 
Law was a fine ball player and a good hitter and made quite a reputation 
in the south. Of course all are familiar with our team of last year which 
won the pennant and also know of the present team and this article was 
written more to give a record of those who in the past upheld the prestige 
of Evansville as a great ball town. 

Of course every little village or small town has had its bad men. This 
does not necessarily mean that these bad men were always bullies, though 
often it is the case that the two go together. Back in the old days when 
the power of the police was not as thoroughly recognized as it is at pres- 
ent, we had quite a number of men who were continually getting into 
brawls of one kind or another and who seemed to glory in tr>'ing to make 
reputations of being bad men whom no one could handle. I think, today 
there is only one man living of the crowd I have in mind, and he has settled 
down to a staid and sober citizen, so I will not mention his name at all. 

About the first one was Dublin Tricks, of whose place I have spoken. 
He was a prize-fighter but not an aggressive one and on the whole a quiet 
kind of a man who never sought trouble. Then we had the Flying Dutch- 
man, who lasted only a short time and then went away. For many years 
we had an old Englishman whom they called Tailor Billy, who was quite a 
boxer and had a habit of getting drunk at every opportunity and then 


telling everybody what a bad man he was. But it was after the war that 
the real fighters began to make themselves felt. There was a man named 
Watson who ran on the river and who had a habit of knocking down every 
inoffensive negro he met. He was certainly a hard hitter but among white 
men not particularly aggressive. Then there was Johnny McLain, who 
was afterwards a policeman, who was supposed to be a man who would 
fight at the drop of the hat but I always sized him up as a man with a 
yellow streak and never did think he would stay in fast company. One- 
armed George was another and Harry Porter still another and when this 
crowd got together there was always trouble, until one time a stranger 
blew in by the name of Gassy Jack, who proved himself such a good rough- 
and-tumble fighter that when he got drunk and went into a barroom the 
crowd escaped through doors or windows or anything that was handy. 
He was champion here for some time until the redoubtable Jim Mulligan 
took the field. Jim was an Irishman who got drunk whenever he could 
and seemed to be made out of iron, for it took from three to four police- 
men to arrest him and when he reached the station he was always battered 
up until he was a sight to behold, but it never seemed to hurt him, for in 
a few days he would be out again looking for fresh trouble. 

For some little time Jim held the limelight until finally his heart was 
broken and, as a great many had been reading Jeff's "My Story of My 
Life," I fail to see why something of this kind might not be of interest to 
the people of Evansville, as it brings in Tommy Coogan, who is still alive 
and doing well at the ripe age of sixty-two. Coogan came here from 
Liverpool, a quiet Englishman and a little fellow, and by chance happened 
to get down into what is called Whisky Row, where the redoubtable Mul- 
ligan was making one of his regular speeches about being able to whip his 
weight in wildcats, etc. Some one approached Coogan, asked him where 
he was from and he replied, "From Liverpool, England." The conversa- 
tion went on as follows: 

"They have a great many fighters over there, don't they?" 

"Yes," said Thomas, "they fight over there for fun." 

"Have you ever fought any?" 

"Yes, I have had quite a few fights." 

"How do you fight over there?" 

"Why, the old England prize fighters use their fists." 

"Do you think you could lick that Irishman who is making all that talk 
at the end of the bar?" 

"Yes, I think I can lick him. He doesn't look bad to me." 

So the windup of the matter was that they matched Tommy to fight 
Mulligan in two or three days, not giving him any time to train before the 
time, though they always thought he kept in pretty good condition. The 
party of the knowing ones took the barge and went up to a point just above 
the city and anchored and the contestants shook hands and began. Mulli- 
gan was simply a child in Coogan's hands. Coogan was an expert boxer 


and before the end of the first round had MulHgan's eyes all out of shape 
and his face battered up and he then proceeded to polish him off at his 
leisure and whipped him with hardly a scratch to himself. Of course 
Evansville felt proud over its new-found champion and Louisville decided 
to send down its champion, who came and his career was about as long as 
that of Mr. Mulligan, but after this second victory Coogan gave it out 
very decidedly that he was not a professional prize fighter and did not 
propose to fight anybody, and stopped then and there. But the fight with 
Coogan broke Mulligan's heart and he left this city never to return. 

There were some bad men in Lamasco for a time but they kept their 
fights between themselves and rarely came to the upper part of the city to 
fight anybody. Again, their style was not very much liked, for they had 
the very bad habit of allowing several men to jump on one poor fellow and 
kick him to pieces. Everybody who likes a fight likes fairness and the 
Lamasco style in those days was certainly not very fair. Mr. D. Evans, 
the oldest grandson of Gen. Robert M. Evans, was a brave and fearless 
man, who was rather quiet and got into very little trouble, but I never 
heard of his having been whipped by anybody. There was also a young 
man named Newman who was very well able to take care of himself, and 
I remember a fight between him and a very heavy-set negro named Cover, 
in which Cover gave him a most beautiful licking. Hen. Scriber was an- 
other good one. But bringing this matter along a little bit nearer the pres- 
ent, my esteemed old friend, Billy Bedford, who refused to tell his age a 
few months ago, was about as handy a specimen with his fists as ever I 
saw. He came by it honestly, for his father, Pap Bedford, was a fearless 
man and loved fighting next to his horses. One thing may be said that 
most of the fights of the bad men were conducted with their fists. Very 
little cutting or shooting was done. In fact, the tragedy in Mozart hall, 
when the Evans boys killed each other, was about the only one I remember 
where pistols were used. 

Let it again be understood that not all the brave men were bad men. 
In those early days a man had to depend to a great extent on his own phys- 
ical powers. The trouble was that nearly every one drank, and under the 
influence of the strong liquor of those days hot words came up and free 
fights, which are almost unknown in these days, often took place right in 
the public square or on the best streets. Among the old timers were Matt 
and Lundy Bums, two brothers, who were both splendid fighters. Lundy 
was killed by a knife thrust in a fight. Wash Beck was also quite a fighter. 
John S. Gavitt, or Smith Cavitt, as he was called, while not a man who 
sought a fight, was known to have absolutely cold-blooded nerve of the 
highest order and would go right up against a pistol. Lute Smith and Wal 
Smith were two other prominent men who were handy with their fists, 
while Paul Evans, spoken of above, though a small man, was a man of 
great nerve. Ted Simpson was quite a fighter and I think was killed by 
being hit over the head by a crazy man whom he was trying to care for. 





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John B. Stinson was another man of nerve, as was also Jim Patton, who lost 
an eye in one of his fights and was interested with Charlie Fox, who at one 
time was city marshal here. Billy Payne was another fighter of the olden 
times. Another very quiet man, but one who could take care of himself, 
was John Oilman, who came here in 1828 and made the first hats ever made 
in the city of Evansville. There was a colored man named Ab Bishop, 
who lived to a good old age here, who was well able to take care of himself 
but his tastes ran more to fighting chickens and fighting dogs, and I think 
the first game chickens ever handled here were fought by Bishop, who 
heeled on one side, and Mr. Gavitt, who heeled for the other, and the lat- 
ter was quite an expert. It should be remembered that it was considered 
all right to race horses or fight chickens, or play cards in those days, just 
so one was not a member of a church. If he had professed religion at the 
mourners' bench, of course he was supposed to drop everything of that 
kind. But until that time a chicken or dog fight or a free-for-all fight was 
supposed to be all right. 


I have spoken of a young negro named George Cover. He was born 
free and was the son of Aunt Sally Cover, who washed for many of the 
early families here and was almost a second Jack Johnson, except in size. 
He dearly loved to fight and could hold his own and I once saw him hit 
on the head with a brick which bounced ofif without seeming to do him any 
perceptible damage. But the trouble was that he got spoiled and began to 
think that it was his duty to cow and abuse every white boy he met, until 
the other boys decided that it was time to call him down or there would be 
no getting along with him. So with their usual shrewdness the young 
fellows arranged a plot. They were all down on Water street when one 
sard, "Let's go up on the sand bar and get some turtle eggs," (for in those 
days the river was full of soft shell turtles which laid their eggs on all the 
bars, and thousands of them were gathered every season by the Evansville 
people, who merely took the track of the old turtle as she went by night to 
lay her eggs and followed it up until where the tracks turned, and, digging 
at this point, they found the eggs a short distance below the surface of the 
sand which hatched them by its heat). 

Cover spoke up at once and said he was going, too, but the others told 
him that he had not been asked and that they did not want him and were 
going up there with their own crowd, but Cover got up and boldly declared 
that if anybody went, he would go and he would show them whether they 
could leave him out or not. So he took his seat in the boat and the white 
young men rowed up to a sand bar which was about opposite where the 
new water works now stand. They hunted eggs for a while and then 
someone proposed swimming and all disrobed. As soon as Cover got into 
the water his clothes were hastily searched and his knife and whatever he 


had in the pockets buried out of sight in the sand and then the whole crowd 
jumped on him. He could have whipped any one or possibly any two, but 
with young fellows all over him, hanging to his legs and arms, and others 
hitting him with their fists, for no weapon was used at all, he was soon so 
badly battered up that he was glad to yell "enough." Then the boys made 
him promise to turn over a new leaf, which he did. After that there never 
was a more polite young fellow. He had had his lesson just when he 
deserved it. 

But for cool nerve, about the best example ever seen here was shown 
by John Ingle, Jr., who was the grandfather of quite a number of the 
Ingle boys and was one of the first men interested in the E. & T. H. rail- 
road. He was a lawyer by profession and a very small man and sparely 
built. In fact, I doubt if he weighed more than 120 lbs., but he was very 
quick on his feet and was a very fearless man. There was an election 
here held at the old market place and as usual a barrel of whiskey was 
put up on a box, the head knocked in and tin cups placed all around, for 
in those days to drink a tin cup full of whiskey was not considered out of 
the way. The average drinker of today who pours a tablespoonful of 
whiskey into a glass and then waters it and thinks he has a drink, would 
shudder at the sight of these old timers filling a tin cup to the brim and 
drinking it down without a drop of water on the side. Of course with so 
much stimulants free to all, elections in those days meant a tolerable peace- 
ful morning but a continuous fight all the afternoon and many of the bet- 
ter citizens had tried to break up this habit of placing out the free whiskey 
but were always voted down by the rougher element who took it for granted 
that elections, whiskey and free fights always went together. On this par- 
ticular day Mr. Ingle went about noon himself to the old market and look- 
ing into the barrel and seeing that it was only about half empty, he sud- 
denly put his shoulder against it and tipped it over before any one there 
thought of interfering and before it could be tilted back, of course everj- 
drop was wasted. Mr. Ingle jumped back, as a great cry arose to lynch 
him, beat him, etc., but he stood with his back up against the building 
and dared any man to lay hands on him. It is very probable that these 
rough men took it for granted that he had a perfect arsenal of fire arms on 
him, but the fact is, as demonstrated afterwards, that Mr. Ingle had only 
a small pocket knife. It was a case of good cool nerve. This one deed 
had such an effect on the minds of the public, that free whiskey opened to 
all in a barrel, was never put out in Evansville afterwards. There were 
sometimes free-for-all fights among the early firemen. Each company had 
its one best man who was always ready to fight the best man in any other 
company, but as a rule they had so much to do at the fires, that the fight- 
ing spirit had little chance to crop out and though there were occasional 
ructions, they were really few and far between. There were also many 
fights at the first horse races. 


All these things occurred, of course, before we had a police force and 
with only one town marshal to protect the whole city, it can easily be seen 
that even the very bravest man who could be put in that position, would 
have his hands more than full in trying to stop a fight where from a dozen 
to 20 men were all engaged in pounding each other. But after all, the 
fighting was not so bad and for the simple reason that in those days men 
did not seem to hold grudges against each other. Nowadays if a man has 
a spite against another, he seeks to do him up in a business way or he is 
inclined to tell preposterous tales behind his back and the aggrieved one 
may go on for years, knowing nothing about it. But in those days when 
two men had a quarrel, they simply fought it out until one yelled 
"enough" and not one blow would be struck after that. In fact, there are 
some still living who know that the man who would srike a prostrate foe 
after he had once cried "enough" would be liable to be whipped immediately 
by half a dozen men standing around. After the vanquished got up, he 
generally shook hands with his victor and then went for a drink and that 
was the end of it and some of the firmest of friendships of the olden times 
were cemented in just such a way. Really, I think I can close this chap- 
ter by saying that it wa? not so bad after all. 

As has been stated, sickness of a serious nature, was almost unknown 
to the old pioneers and the primitive stock of drugs and the knowledge of 
herbs possessed by the pioneer mothers were amply able to cope with almost 
any sickness that arose, but the one disease most feared by everyone was 
milk sickness. In fact, a joke was extant for many years that no family 
would admit that this disease existed in their vicinity but was always to 
be found in the next county. It was in the very early years of the settle- 
ment of this section, that this disease appeared in its worst stages. Several 
young towns and settlements were almost depopulated and there were very 
few individuals in this section who escaped with only one or more serious 
attacks. Of course what we now know as chills and fever existed in those 
days and possibly to a greater extent than at present, for its existence is 
attributed to decaying vegetation and the malaria in the air and as this 
whole country was full of low places there was naturally much more 
malaria than at present. Milk sickness got its name from the fact that those 
affected attributed their attacks to the use of the milk of cows which had 
contracted it. No one seems to have ever found out just what caused this 
disease, but it was from some grass or herb which grew in the land which 
never had been tilled, for it is a fact that after the country was opened up 
and the soil all cultivated, it disappeared almost entirely. Many thought 
it was the noxious weed which grew in deep woods where the sun could 
never penetrate and the fact that cattle that grazed in cleared fields never 
took the disease, would make this appear correct. 

But in the very early days no farmer could afford to fence in a pasture, 
let alone clear one,- and he was content to let his cattle graze in the deep 
woods which were rich with canebrakes in winter and wild pea-vine in sum- 


mer. The range was so excellent that cattle were always fat. So preva- 
lent did this disease become at times, that farmers would lose their entire 
herds, saving only the hides, for even when an animal died, the hide was 
promptly secured, as it was the most valuable part about it. 

A well-known physician in writing of this disease says, "The disease 
produced by this poison occurred originally in the Herbivora — as the ox, 
horse, sheep, etc., but was transmitted to the carniverous animals and birds 
which had fed upon the flesh of other animals dead from the disease, as 
the dog and the vulture. The flesh and milk of diseased animals were 
capable, when eaten, of imparting the disease ; the cow, through her milk, 
poisoned her calf or poisoned the people who drank of the milk or ate of 
the butter made from the milk. 

"When the poison had once been introduced into the system it had the 
power of self propagation and of imparting the same intensely poisonous 
properties from one animal to another, and was capable of perpetuating the 
disease in a continuous chain of animals as one should eat the flesh of an- 
other. Thus each pound of flesh of a dog which had been poisoned by a 
pound of flesh of the cow, would poison the vulture and so on through a 
long chain of animals, the last pound of flesh partaken of being as poison- 
ous as that taken from the animal first afifected. There is no known min- 
eral or vegetable principle which, when taken into the system, can thus 
multiply itself and perpetuate its poisonous principle. The disease in man 
derived its name from the well established fact that it was produced by 
drinking the milk, or eating the flesh or the butter or cheese made from the 
milk of cows or other animals which had become poisoned in consequence 
of frequenting certain limited ranges or uncultivated pastures. 

"It was called 'milk sickness.' Tlirough its annual destruction of large 
numbers of domestic animals and its fatality among early settlers, it was 
one of the most prominent enemies to the prosperity of the pioneers. In 
the beginning the symptoms were not well marked, so that the milk and 
flesh of really diseased animals might be inadvertently eaten under the 
supposition that the animal was in good health. Their most attractive and 
healthy looking condition, even their extreme fatness, did not give the com- 
plete assurance of their exemption of this disease. In this state they were 
often found to be sick, suffering from a loss of appetite and energy, with 
their eyes red and watery they would stagger, tremble, fall down in con- 
vulsions and die. Sheep, when seized with a paroxysm of the 'trembles' 
would stagger as if trying to free themselves from the grasp of some ter- 
rible enemy, and would soon surrender and fall down, uttering the most 
plaintive bleating as if suffering intensely painful distress. 

"The farmer had a test for the healthfulness of the beef cattle, just off 
the wild range, that may have been designated the 'fatigue' test. I have 
often seen the test applied. It consisted of placing the animals in a field 
or lot, and boys, with coats and hats off, were directed to chase them around 
and urge them to their greatest speed. If, after a long chase the cattle did 


not evince signs of muscular weakness, stagger, tremble, or fall down, 
they were pronounced healthy, and were at once slaughtered and their 
flesh was eaten with the utmost security against the disease." 

In the primitive days, when it was claimed that men were more honest 
than they are now, it was not always an easy matter to determine just in 
what particular neighborhood the poisonous principle was located. The 
story has been current for fifty years that travelers, or land-buyers seek- 
ing homes in the west, found it very difficult to catch up with the place 
where it had its habitation ; that in answer to the question whether the neigh- 
borhood was troubled with it, they invariably received the assurance that 
the disease did not exist there, but "over at Jones five miles ahead it was 
bad." Farmers then appeared to be as ready to suppress the existence of 
the disease near them as commercial men and newspapers are nowadays 
to suppress epidemic or contagious disease in the great marts of business. 

The disease was known in North Carolina more than one hundred years 
ago, and as emigration flowed westward it was found to exist in Tennessee, 
Kentucky, and has prevailed in these states, as well as in Indiana, Illinois, 
Missouri, Alabama, Virginia and perhaps several western states other than 
these mentioned. There are no statistics accessible from which we may learn 
the fatality of this subtle poison in man and beast. 

The late Dr. M. J. Bray, one of the oldest inhabitants, as truthful and 
honorable as he was aged, stated that at an early day in the history of the 
city of Evansville, when much of the present site was occupied by mature 
forests, he could walk from the present center of business to the present 
suburbs, a distance of two miles, on the bones of animals which had died 
from "trembles." Another states that an entire family, a wife, seven chil- 
dren and two grandparents, were swept away in a single season by this 
scourge. The history of a single case will be sufficient to illustrate the 
fact that the greatest physical strength, when brought into the unequal 
combat, was powerless to resist the fatal effects of this terrible and deadly 
malady. I witnessed when a boy the sufferings and death of a neighbor 
from this poison. His muscular strength was greater than that of ordinary 
men. Though not apparently a large man, his frame was compact, his form 
symmetrical, his muscles were firm and unusually developed, and his power 
seemed phenomenal. His strength was particularly manifested in athletic 
contests, and at log-rollings where a hand spike, sufficient to resist the 
strength of an ordinary man, was like a brittle broom stick when tested by 
his power. In his struggles with the disease he was extremely restless, so 
that no ordinary effort could restrain him in bed. He would roll off onto 
the floor and roll back and forth from one side of the room to the other. 
The struggle was terrible to behold but the physical giant. Jack Bowman, 
was forced to yield to the overpowering enemy. Any attempt on the part 
of a man not fully recovered from an attack, to walk or run fast would 
induce a paroxysm of trembling attended by great muscular prostration and 
debility. He would be compelled to sit down and rest or fall down. Active 


physical exertion stimulated by excitement would immediately endanger 
life. Judge Asa Iglehart said that his father, who lived on a public road, 
had a dog that was sick with trembles. A neighbor passed along the road 
with a dog following him. The sick dog did not see the other until it had 
passed some distance beyond the house. The old habit of chasing every 
dog that came in sight of the farm had become second nature, and so he 
started off at his greatest speed, but, before catching up with the strange 
dog, he was seen to fall down, tremble as with a convulsion and before the 
owner could walk to where he fell, he was dead. 

Esquire Ben Stinson says that when a lad he was walking on the Hen- 
derson road, some five miles from this city, and met a neighbor on horse- 
back. After passing him he looked down the road and saw the neighbor's 
dog following him. He hid himself behind a tree for the purpose of jump- 
ing out and frightening the dog ia order to see him run. When the dog 
was opposite he sprang out and said "boo." Instead of running the dog 
fell in his tracks, gave a few kicks, and was dead. Mingled guilt and fear 
prevented him, until he was a man grown, from mentioning the injury he 
believed he had done his neighbor. Dogs which had eaten of poisoned flesh 
became, in a few days, so stiff and helpless that they could not get over 
a three-rail fence and were utterly unfit to chase game or to drive stock 
from the fields. Oxen could endure but little travel or work. Horses once 
aflfected, though looking well, were worthless for work or travel, and traders 
could not speed them back and forth to exhibit their superior gaits, but 
were forced to trade them standing. 

If a man started to ride to a neighbor's a few miles away, his horse was 
liable to give out on the road and leave him to walk home. Such is briefly 
the history of the "pioneers' enemy," "Milk Sickness." 









The fashionable wedding of today is indeed a matter of great note and 
also a matter of strenuous anxiety on the part of the contracting parties 
and their relatives for perhaps weeks and even months before the auspi- 
cious event occurs. The bride perhaps spends months in getting ready a 
trousseau to befit the occasion, while the groom spends his time in so per- 
fecting his business as to assure himself of enough ready cash for their 
honeymoon trip, and the furnishing of a house, etc., after the wedding is 
over. It is also a matter of great import to the immediate friends of both 
families, as the wedding presents of the present day are no trifle. Before 
the ceremony it is customary to have rehearsals at the church in order that 
the ceremony may be absolutely perfect in every detail. The attendants, 
though having no real interest in the affair, save for the playing of their 
particular parts, are also put to great expense in the way of proper and 
appropriate costumes for the occasion. Of course the above has reference 
only to weddings in what is termed "high class society," and while those 
in Evansville are not to be compared to the gorgeous display of the 400 
in the east, where each woman seems to feel it her duty to show by her 
dress and her jewelry how much money her husband is quoted at having, 
they still form only a very small part in the aggregate number of weddings 
that occur. There are many among the people of moderate and even hum- 
ble means, where there is no attempt at display, yet even in these cases the 
bride and groom usually have plenty on which to marry. They are nearly 
always able to have their own home or to arrange for a nice living with 
relatives and the most humble have warm-hearted friends who are only too 
glad, out of their own small stores, to furnish them with all the needful 
things of this life. Now mark the contrast with the early day. In those 
days they married young. Many marriages were consummated when 
neither groom or bride possessed one solitary cent in actual money. In fact, 
the groom owned absolutely nothing except the clothes on his back and his 


trusty rifle and possibly a dog or two. The bride on her part, had nothing 
but the homespun dress which she wore and possibly one other for state 
occasions. Had money been necessary to pay the fee for the license, it 
would have been hard to raise even that. The young people did not ask or 
expect much. If the groom was a good hunter and could handle an axe, 
he could furnish his bride with all that was necessary, for the bride had 
been carefully raised by her mother and was a good girl and a good daugh- 
ter and that was all the groom asked. He had no thought of any dowry. 
When it became known that the young people had "sot" the day, the news 
was soon sent over the entire neighborhood by way of mouth. No one ever 
thought of sending an invitation in writing, but it was supposed naturally 
that every one who heard of the wedding was expected. There were no 
social lines or distinctions of any kind. Men and women were all alike 
and if their characters were good, that was all that was asked by any one. 
The wedding indeed was a case where "the latch key string hung out." On 
the day of the wedding the groom and his best friends would gather at 
his father's home. Sometimes as many as a dozen were in this party and 
the two who owned the best horses were selected to "run for the bottle." 
The race began half a mile from the home of the bride and a bottle of corn 
whiskey was given to the young man who first reached the door. He 
then turned and riding at top speed, took the bottle back to the little knot 
of friends where each one took a drink. This may seem strange to the 
people of the present who see so much of the bad effects of hard drinking, 
but it must be remembered that the pioneers were simple in their drinking 
as they were in other things and again their hardy frames could resist 
liquor which would quickly cause one of the young dudes of today to col- 
lapse. These races were for blood and there is a case which happened in 
Pike county where a young man who was running for the bottle, was in- 
stantly killed. The horse shied at something and threw him against a tree 
which fractured his skull. 

After taking this first drink as etiquette demanded, the party of young 
men rode slowly to the home of the bride. The point was to reach the 
house as near noon as possible, it being a breach of etiquette to get there 
too early. Every settlement had within its limits some one who could 
solemnize a wedding, though the county seat was often 50 miles away. As 
soon as the ceremony was over the wedding feast began and it was a 
feast indeed, for the appetites of those days were in exact ratio with 
everything else — harmless. The dinner was usually served on a long 
table, made with rough planks and was sometimes lOO feet long. This, 
in view of the festival occasion, was always covered with linen cloth that 
had been laid on the bushes in the garden for many weeks, to bleach as 
white as possible. At other times our ancestors ate from the bare boards 
or from puncheon benches but at a wedding — never. This cloth was al- 
ways made by the bride alone. Of course every dish in the entire neigh- 
borhood had been sent in long before as the most wealthy pioneer rarely 


owned more than enough dishes for his Httle family. Most of the plates 
were pewter, as were also the spoons, for this was even before the days of 
the blue and white dishes of our grandmothers. When the pewter spoons 
gave out, horn and wooden spoons were used. The feast was plain but 
plenty. There were all sorts of meats. A steer was generally killed and 
in addition to beef there was venison, bear's meat, wild turkey and squir- 
rels. The bread was only one kind. The old hoe cake or Johnnie cake, as 
it was sometimes called, made from meal pounded in a mortar and baked 
on a hoe or johnnie-cake board. There was an abundance of wild turkey 
and they could be found almost anywhere. After the dinner was over and 
a general hand-shaking had been indulged in, together with heartfelt wishes 
for good luck, and these wishes came from the hearts of these dear old 
souls, the older people all started for home but the young ones made their 
preparations for a dance, which was never over until it was daylight. The 
dances were of course primitive and as I had found no record in any books 
of reference, as to how these dances were conducted, I will give an exact 
description of how the figures were called, as years ago in the towns of 
Egypt, Illinois, where the people still observe the primitive customs which 
were in vogue in Evansville in the '20s. I have attended many a dance of 
that kind and know whereof I speak. The fiddler, for they had no violin- 
ists in those days, or two of them, if the settlement was wealthy enough to 
own two, took their places on a raised platform in one corner. They 
kept time with their feet and often the music of their feet was louder than 
that of the fiddle. The fiddler who would fail to beat time with his foot 
at a dance, would never be expected to serve at a second one. The "calls" 
were as follows: 

Balansay all. 

Swing comers. 

Swing partners. 

Ladies change. 

Sides the same. 

First four forward and back. 

Four hands round and back to places. 

Sides the same. 

Ladies change. 

All hands round and close to center. 

Balansay all. 

Swing comers. 

Swing partners. 

First lady to the right, gent to the left. 

Three hands 'round. 

Both balance next couple. 

Four hands 'round. 


Same to the sides. 

Three hands 'round. 

All balance and swing corners. 

Swing partners. 

First lady to the right and swing. 

Gent follow and swing. 

Same to the next and 'round. 

Second lady follow, gent the same. 

Third lady, same, fourth lady same. 

All jine hands and close to center. 

Once more, once more. 

Swing the one you love the best and back to places. 

Grand right and left. 


It can be seen by the above that the figures are very easy to learn 
and "balansay all" seemed to be the favorite call. The boys would "rare" 
back and execute a kind of shuffle, while the girls would spread out their 
homespun dresses and some of them were far superior to the boys. In 
every little settlement there was always one young man and one young lady 
who could out-shuffle all the rest and whenever it came the turn for the 
gentleman to balance to the next lady and these two dancers met in the 
center of the floor, the fiddler would throw his whole soul into his instru- 
ment and hold these two in the center while both the fiddler and the others 
in the seats would indulge in such encouraging remarks as "Lay her down 
Sallie, lay her down. Don't let Bill get you on that step, Sallie." "Rare 
back Bill. Side swing Bill and turkey shuffle. Don't give in Sallie, you 
can beat Bill. Don't give in," and so on until the pair were nearly ex- 
hausted, when the gentleman would pass to the left and the lady to the 
right as the case might be, and begin to balance the two other couples. It 
would seem from the above statements that there was a sort of wildness 
about the«e dances, but such was not the case. No more respect to the 
gentler sex could be shown at the greatest function of the present day and 
while the young pioneer might swing his partner with a great deal of 
force, it was only because he was strong and full of the rich blood of 
young manhood and did not really realize his own strength. If the "waltz 
of the present day in which a lady in accordance with common rules, rests 
her head on the shoulder of the partner, while he clasps her closely around 
the waist, had been attempted in those days, the dance would have been 
broken up and the fathers and mothers of the pair who had been 
guilty of such absolutely astounding actions, would have admonished them 
then and there. So much for the changes and styles of dancing. And 
just to show that history repeats itself, here is a recent article from the 
daily press: 


"It's coming back, yes sir, it's coming back — the crossroad dance of 
twenty-five years ago is coming back and the old fiddle with its sweet 
strains of music is coming back too — bet yer boots both of 'em are coming 
back. The numerous selections squeaked by the old fiddle also are coming 
back — 'Mohawk,' 'The Girl I left Behind Me,' 'Who Hit Aunt Jane,' 'Ar- 
kansas Traveler,' 'Hades Am Floatin', de River Am Risin' ' and dozens of 
others just like 'em are coming back. Ain't that going some? Listen to 
the dance caller of twenty-five years ago: 

"Eight hands up, circle to left, 
Single file back, balance all, 
Right hands cross, left hand back. 
Do-si-do, next couple up. 

"Eight hands up, circle to left. 
Balance all, swing your partners, 
First couple lead to the right 
Circle four, lady round lady, 
Gent round gent, gent round lady, 
Lady round gent, balance to next. 

"Eight hands up, circle to left. 
Everybody swing, first couple out. 
Circle four, both hands cross, birds, 
In the center, birds hop out, crows 
Hop in, swing, balance all, swing. 
Next couple out. 

"The fiddle or violin is fast coming back into favor in southern In- 
diana according to a statistical report, and this means that the crossroad 
dance is coming back, too. The crossroad dance used to be a great social 
factor in rural communities, in fact, down in Wabash township the fiddle 
and open air dances are still in vogue. It is refreshing to learn that Wa- 
bash township will no longer hold a monopoly on this grand and glorious 
feature of the old social life. Older citizens can readily recall the time 
when the fiddle occupied as conspicuous a place in the home as the tele- 
phone, organ, piano, or phonograph does today. It was an article that 
shared the aff'ection and care of each member of the family. If it was an 
instrument that had been handed down from generation to generation, its 
value in the eyes of those who knew its past history was doubly enhanced. 

"It's coming back, yes sir, it's coming back, and won't the pioneers of 
southern Indiana have cause to rejoice? Fetch that fiddle, child, and 
clear the room — 


"Eight hands, up, circle to left, 
Single file back, balance all. 
Right hands cross, left hand back, 
Do-si-do, next couple up." 

The honeymoon was unknown and as soon as the dance was over and 
breakfast taken, the young husband started home with his bride. If he 
was fortunate enough to own a horse, he led him to the horse block and 
she, after putting a rough skirt over her lindsey woolsey dress, mounted 
the horse block and jumped on the horse's back behind her husband's sad- 
dle, if he had one. Very often his saddle was only a piece of deer hide 
roughly fastened on. Sometimes the mother of the bride furnished what 
was known as a pillion, which was merely^ like the sofa cushion of the 
present day and on this the bride sat and with her arms closely clasping 
her husband's waist, they started off for their home, which was nearly 
always one of the little cabins described elsewhere in this work. There 
was no throwing of rice or old shoes. Nobody, not even the most wealthy 
had any rice to throw away for such foolishness, and as for shoes, one pair 
was all that anybody ever was known to own. As for the bride, she had 
no Saratoga traveling trunk. All she could take with her she could easily 
carry in one hand, in a deer-skin bag. Of course the quilts and utensils for 
household use, had been carried to the new home by the young friends of 
the couple. Everything was in readiness for the noonday meal. Even a 
pile of nicely chopped fire wood would be provided by the young groom's 
friends and possibly a piece of venison or game of some kind would be 
found hanging up all ready for their first meal. It would be perhaps 
proper to say, "and they lived happy forever after," and it is a fact that this 
could be said more truly than it can be of many weddings of the present 
day, where marriage is so often made a matter of convenience or of join- 
ing two estates. In the old days there was nothing but true love and when 
a man and woman married they seemed to feel that it was their duty to 
stand by each other through every one of the toils and privations that 
closed so thickly around the histories of these early settlers. 

Away back in the early days of Evansville near the old canal stood a 
modest little blacksmith's shop. The blacksmith was a veteran of the 
Revolutionary war, a tall grizzled old man, but who, when occasion re- 
quired, could make a snare drum almost talk, for he had been a drummer 
in Washington's army. This was Mr. James Urie, often spoken of as 
Father Urie. As a child I can remember that no parade of any kind was 
considered perfect unless Father Urie was the drummer. Those who are 
used to the snare drum of the present day, a very shallow brass cylinder, 
the heads of which are quickly tightened by turning a few thumb screws, 
can hardly imagine the old snare drum such as I played when drummer for 
the Evansville Rifles and such as Father Urie used. It was made of oak 
and was about six times as large as the snare drum now used. The cords 


were all hemp rope on which were placed what was called the "ears" which 
were pieces of leather to be pushed down on the cords to tighten the heads. 
This leather, as soon as it dried, would slip up, so that very often a drum- 
mer would have to moisten his drum cords with saliva and then push down 
the ears hoping that they would stick until he had a chance during a lull 
in the music to tighten them up again. Even in the early days of the war 
this drum was used but it soon gave way to the brass or copper drum of 
the present day. Special note is made of this, because there are so many 
of the very oldest citizens who can remember Uncle Jim Urie and how he 
could make that old drum talk. He was the pioneer of the plow industry 
in Southern Indiana. His first shop was on the road between Boonville 
and Newburgh where he did general blacksmithing and wagon repairing 
but he was in Evansville very often and always at any meeting of any con- 
sequence. But in i860 he moved his family to this city and brought with 
him his three sons, John, Charles and James. They opened a small shop at 
the corner of 8th and Division streets and remained there until he changed 
to the modest shop on Main street. Mr. Urie was a natural mechanic and 
could turn out such good plows that they soon made a reputation wherever 
they were used. He found that he had more than he could do. In 1865 he 
invented a great improvement on the plow that he had been making and had 
it patented and in 1866 he established a plow factory at the corner of 5th 
and Vine streets, taking in as a partner, Lewis Ruffner, who was in the 
commission business on Water street. Mr. Urie and his sons made the 
plows, while Ruffner sold them, but for some reason the business failed. 
A few years later Mr. Urie secured shop room with Roelker, Blount & 
Co.'s factory and they furnished the capital and took up the making of 
plows. In 1870 when the firm dissolved, Mr. Henry F. Blount took the old 
Urie plow department as part of his share and built the Blount Plow Works 
with O. F. Jacobi as his business manager. Two of Urie's sons stayed with 
Mr. Roelker and continued to make plows until that firm failed about 1893. 
In the meantime the old gentleman invented still another plow and he was 
taken into partnership by Mr. Blount and the work still went on at Main 
street, between 5th and 6th. In 1874 Mr. Blount bought Urie's patent and 
the latter left the company and Mr. Blount then erected the present plant 
of the Blount Plow Works, one of the most successful and best-conducted 
establishments in the city of Evansville. Mr. Urie afterwards patented 
still another plow and secured shop room with the Heilman Machine Co., 
at the time when the cotton mill was removed from there to its present site. 
Mr. Urie manufactured plows on a small scale but lacked capital which 
was advanced to him by the late William Heilman, who was always ready 
to help any hard-working man. 

The Vulcan Chilled plow which now has such a reputation, is the out- 
growth of this last invention of Mr. Urie's. It is a pity that this good old 
man who did so much in the way of making the plows of Evansville known 
in every section of the country, should have spent the last of his life away 


from home, but he went to Kansas where he died, five years after leaving 

The number of plows turned out here each year by the different works 
in Evansville would be almost beyond belief and each one is an advertise- 
ment in itself. For years the only rivals of Evansville have been Rock 
Island, Davenport, Moline and South Bend. But Evansville beats them all 
so much in point of location, that it will be but a short time until she takes 
her trade away from them. It is said among farmers and it is believed by 
all manufacturers, that the old wooden handle will soon be a thing of the 
past and it is thought its place will be taken by light steel. A light steel 
handle is equally as strong and can soon be made at a cost very little more 
.than wood. Here again is where Evansville will excel her competitors. 
She can buy steel and have it shipped here much cheaper than any of them. 
She can also get her plows to the market more cheaply than any of them. 
To make good plows the very best of steel must naturally be used. Here 
again is where that greatest of all blessings, the Ohio river, comes in. The 
best steel known in this country is made in Pittsburg and with the nine or 
ten-foot stretch of water between Pittsburg and Evansville, all the products 
of the former city can be landed at our doors at a rate so much cheaper 
than any railroad transportation that there is hardly any comparison be- 
tween them. 

Going still further, we can get a rate to Evansville on steel shipments 
from the Lake Superior district, exactly the same as the rate to South 
Bend. Now add to this the fact that we have quoted several times that 
Evansville lies almost in the exact center of the United States and it cer- 
tainly will be very easy to show that no competitor now or ever, can hope 
to compete with Evansville with her beautiful modern well-built plows, 
the outgrowth of the poor little home-made plows of the early pioneer 
mentioned. To hear Major Rozencranz tell of th ealmost inexhaustible 
demand for the Vulcan Plow is like a fairy tale, and to me to whom good 
old Father Urie first taught the mysteries of the "long roll" and the "double 
drag," it is highly interesting. 

While on the subject of plows, I would like to give a beautiful example 
of how any industry can be carried along and the best of feeling main- 
tained between employer and employees during a long period of years. 
Mr. Henry F. Blount, who, while a citizen of Washington, D. C., and liv- 
ing in a magnificent home there, is still in one respect a citizen of Evans- 
ville, having great interests here, is an example of what kindness and 
thought fulness will do when directed towards the welfare of his men. As 
is well known, he is the head of the great Blount Plow Works situated on 
Main street, where the street cars turn west around the building. As noted 
before, he was at one time in partnership with Mr. Urie but afterwards 
started the Blount Plow Works on a grand scale at its present location. 
At the end of his first year's business, which had proved very satisfactory, 
he decided to give an informal dinner to all employees and every man from 


the first bookkeeper down to the most humble driver was invited. The 
affair went off so pleasantly, enlivened by speeches by Mr. Blount and his 
associates in the offices and by the workers, that before the dinner broke 
up, it was decided to give another one at the same date on the next year. 
This pleasant custom has been kept up during all these long years and no 
matter what pressure of business Mr. Blount has in the East, he gives up, 
everything to always be here to meet his men. 

So great and well known have these functions become, that they are 
eagerly looked forward to each year and the speeches that are made at 
these gatherings are often reproduced in full in the daily papers. Mr. 
Blount remembers each man with some little present and they in turn al- 
ways remember him. It is to this feeling of mutual good-fellowship be- 
tween employer and employees that no strike has ever occurred at these 
works. The men are happy and well-paid and the most perfect machinery 
to protect them is always introduced by Mr. Blount and they look on him 
as a friend and not as an employer, while he claims on his part, that he 
has the best set of working men in the city of Evansville. 

It is a great pity that the city has not more employers like Mr. Blount. 
He has always been ready to see and commend good workmanship on the 
part of his men, has always been ready to greet them with a pleasant word 
and this is far from being the case in many large institutions. In some of 
them the employer seems to grudge every cent that is paid out to his men 
no matter how small their wages may be. He often attempts to drive 
them as an overseer would drive his slaves and this is not the way to get 
the best work out of men, no matter in what line they may be employed. 
Any man will work harder and better and will put in odd hours, if nec- 
essary, to help along an employer who appreciates him, while on the other 
hand, when a man feels that he is paid for exactly so many hours of work, 
that he is never given credit for trying to save anything for the institution, 
that he is simply, in fact, a part of the machinery, he is apt to give just as 
much to his employer as is exactly necessary and not one minute more. 
In fact, he is the kind of a man who would naturally throw down an un- 
finished piece of work when the whistle blew. Again his feelings towards 
his employer are never kindly. He knows in his heart that if his employer 
dared cut down his daily wage he would gladly do it, no matter if he knew 
how close the wolf was to his door and how hard it was with his salary 
to make both ends meet. This is human nature and no one can blame these 
poor fellows for feeling as they do. 

While the average scale of wages in Evansville is equal to that of other 
cities of the same size, it is safe to say that none of the ordinary workmen 
are being overpaid. 

Reverting to Mr. Blount's case, I do not think that there has ever been 
any question as to wages at his plant. He knows what his men are worth 
to him and they know their own worth and there has never been any con- 


flict of opinion. They go on hand in hand. As Mr. Blount makes money, 
so do his men. 

As stated before, it would be a good thing if all the heads of great manu- 
facturing institutions in Evansville would work on the same plan as does 
Mr. Blount. There is no desire on my part to place his plant above any 
other, but I only speak of things as I know them, having been present at 
several of these yearly gatherings and having seen every evidence of good 
feelings that exists. 


The steamboat is at best a transitory thing. One year it may be owned 
by a company on a certain river and employed as a packet between cities, 
while the next year it may be hundreds of miles away in an entirely differ- 
ent part and owned by other men. Therefore an absolutely correct ac- 
count of Evansville's steamboats would be hard to give. The first steam- 
boats known to the Ohio Valley were introduced in 1811. They were 
built at Pittsburg but were for the southern trade from New Orleans up 
the sugar coast and as high as Natchez and Memphis. One of the first 
boats was the New Orleans, owned by Nich. J. Roosevelt, a grandfather 
of ex-president Roosevelt. She passed here after being detained at "the 
Falls," as Louisville was called long before the memory of the first citizen. 
In 1814 the Comet and Vesuvius also went down but remained in the 
southern trade. The Enterprise was about the first boat to pass here reg- 
ularly. But she only made two trips from New Orleans to Louisville. 
These boats were all double-decked and with side wheels. The prosperous 
times in steamboating were between 1835 and 1876, before railroads be- 
came so plentiful. They offered then about the only means of travel be- 
tween the north and the south. During this time, boats were operated 
from Pittsburg, Cincinnati and Louisville, to Memphis, New Orleans and 
St. Louis. The passenger traffic was very great and many of these boats 
were perfect palaces. The Princess was 365 feet in length, and cost 
$365,000. The fastest boat of those times was the Shotwell, which ran 
between New Orleans and Louisville. During the very early days of the 
wholesale business in Evansville, a number of little boats ran up Green 
river. One was the Lou Eaves, named for a sister of Mrs. W. B. Hinkle 
Another was the Molly Funk, and ran by a grizzly old man named Funk, 
who called the boat in honor of his wife. Another was the Southern 
Queen, a non-describable craft, which I think was a ferry, made over into 
a steamboat. These little boats did quite a business along Green river and 
were only superseded when the tobacco traffic of the Green river country 
grew so great that larger steamers were needed. During the war steam- 
boats received a severe blow. The very finest boats were pressed into serv- 
ice by either the federal or confederate governments. Some were sheathed 
on the side and boiler plate was riveted thereon and they were thus trans- 
formed into gunboats. Many old soldiers will remember them as the Mos- 


quito fleet. Most of the boats that were used were stern wheelers, as it 
was impossible to make good gunboats out of the big side wheel palaces. 
It became perilous to pilot boats anywhere along the lower Ohio or Mis- 
sissippi river. The pilot had no means of knowing what forces were near 
him and so was liable to be shot at his post at any moment by soldiers 
from one side or the other and for quite a time not a boat came into this 
port in which the pilot house was not protected. To do this, sections of 
the old tubular boilers were used, one side of a boiler being on each side of 
the pilot, giving him barely room to manage his wheel. But these model 
shields were absolutely impervious to bullets and the only danger was from 
a shot in front. But at best, piloting was hazardous and most of the boats 
gave up their trade and were tied up along the river and at the end of the 
war were only unsightly wrecks of what were once beautiful vessels. 
There was a line of packets at one time from Evansville up the Wabash 
river and they went as far up as Lefayette but as the Wabash became al- 
most impassable, this line was given up. The Tennessee River Packet 
Company sprung up after the war and opened up an entirely new territory. 
Captain Allen J. Duncan was the pioneer in this trade. His first boat was 
the Sam. Orr, afterwards the Rapidan, Florence Lee, Silver Cloud, Red 
Cloud, Fawn, Clyde and John Gilbert. This line had a magnificent busi- 
ness for years, and was virtually ruined by St. Louis merchants who put 
in boats and made freight rates so low as to drive the Evansville boats out 
of the field. One of the best lines was knovra as the Evansville, Paducah 
and Cairo. The first boat in this line was the Charlie Bowen, brought here 
by Captain Dexter from Pittsburg, who later brought the Quickstep, a 
beautiful little boat, and then the city of Evansville. Afterwards we had 
the Arkansas Belle, Pat Clebourne, and Idlewild, which latter boat was man- 
aged by Captain Grammer, who afterwards, before his death, became a 
great railroad traffic man. These boats in this line, while not as large as 
some others, were superb. Their cabins were models of taste and neatness 
and the table of the finest and many a weary drummer was only too glad 
to vary his trip with a short ride on one of these boats in order to get at 
least one good meal, after the bacon and corn bread on which he had 
been living. There was also a Cumberland river line which was built 
up by Captain Tom Ryman. This began in 1870 and met with the same fate 
as the others. The Nashville and Paducah merchants combined against 
the Evansville merchants, put in boats, and there was the same old reduc- 
tion in prices which soon drove out the Evansville boats. 

There were great contests in speed in the old days. The race between 
the Robert E. Lee and the Natchez will go down through history. It was 
from New Orleans to St. Louis, 1240 miles. The Lee made it in three 
days, eighteen hours and twenty-six minutes, several hours in advance of 
the Natchez. Afterwards the beautiful steamer, J. M. White, was built, 
and it was said by old river men, that she could have beaten either one, 
but her owners never cared to speed her. Considering the number of boats 


that plied around Evansville and passed her, the disasters were few. About 
the greatest one was the blowing up of the great steamer Missouri which 
blew up at the mouth of Green river and floated down to the sand bar 
across from the present water works. She took afire and hardly a passen- 
ger was saved, over lOO lives being lost. Great numbers of people went 
up there from this city to see her, and in fact, there was an excursion boat 
which made many trips to allow people to witness this wreck. This oc- 
curred in September, 1861. Those who look at the wharf boats and the 
steamboats of the present day, can have no conception of what constituted 
steamboating in those great days before the advent of so many railroads. 
I have seen the wharf from Locust street to clear past Division absolutely 
blocked with all kinds of freight. There would be hundreds of bales of 
cotton from the southern boats to go north, hundreds of hogsheads of to- 
bacco brought in from various points in Kentucky and from some of the 
counties above Evansville, hundreds of coops of live poultry waiting to be 
shipped south, and flour, furniture and thousands of parcels of groceries 
and dry goods, and in fact hundreds of packages of every description of 
goods. I have seen as many as six boats side by side lying at the wharf, 
having to cross five of them to interview the officials of the sixth or out- 
side boat. The Guiding Star, the Charles Morgan, and boats of that class 
and the enormous freight boats like the U. P. Schenk, which were almost 
like enormous barges, fitted out with machinery, with the steamboat proper 
built on top of them. So heavy was the traffic that many of these boats 
were unable, even with their carrying capacity, to handle the freight and 
took with them model barges one on each side, which were filled with 
freight before they got out of the Ohio river. I have seen wharf boatmen 
begging empty steamboats and barges to take on freight here, yet they 
were refused because the entire room had all been wired for by Mt. Ver- 
non, Shawneetown and Cairo. The lamented Mark Twain, who himself 
was a pilot in the old days, in his book, "Life on the Mississippi," gives a 
faithful description of many of these boats and they are not at all ex- 
aggerated. To many it seems sad to think that the era of successful steam- 
boating has almost passed away, but who can tell what the future may be, 
when the Panama Canal is finished. It may be that there will be no more 
luxurious passenger steamers, because it is speedier to travel in Pullmans, 
but no railroads, no matter how great their systems, will ever properly 
handle the traffic, so we may look for enormous bages built with the ut- 
most skill, capable of carrying enormous loads, propelled by steamboats 
with a great volume of horse power which can make New Orleans the 
great distributing point that it was during the early day. And before 
dismissing steamboats, for the present, some chronicle should be made of 
the delightful times that were had when the Evansville and Cairo Packet 
line was in existence. The great object of the officers of these boats seemed 
to be to make their passengers feel perfectly at home. No sooner had the 
bell rang to loose the cable than card tables were brought out in the main 


cabin, while in the ladies' cabin the strains of music from beautiful pianos 
filled the air. Nobody objected to card playing in those days, and in fact, 
the blue, white and red chips were considered almost a part of the cabin 
outfit. These games, of course, were generally among the traveling men 
and passengers and were for small amounts and simply to kill time, but to 
the welfare and happiness of the lady passengers, the efforts of the cap- 
tain and his always good-looking clerks were attracted and it is a fact that 
those clerks of the early day were selected because of their ability to en- 
tertain. A gruff impolite clerk had no business on any steamboat and soon 
found himself out of a job. But a good-looking young fellow, who knew 
how to talk and sing a song, dance anything and do his clerical work be- 
sides, was always certain of a big salary. On these boats, the dancing be- 
gan almost as soon as the supper tables were cleared away. The waiters 
employed were always musicians and while they could not be called culti- 
vated artists, the music they made was of the most exhilarating kind and 
was plenty good for those days. But it was at the little towns down the 
river that the most fun was had. Let it be known, that the packet would 
be compelled to stay for several hours at Mt. Vernon, Shawneetown and 
almost any of these points, and the minute the boat landed to take on 
freight people would be waiting for it and when the boat landed in at 
the big wharf boats, they would be found filled with bevies of lovely 
young girls and their attending cavaliers. In those days, we all knew each 
other along the river and belles from any one of the little towns along the 
Ohio were always known in Evansville, just as were our belles known in 
these smaller places, as little visits then were not the affairs of state that 
they are nowdays. In fact, it was not vmusual for a young lady to take 
only a small satchel and get on a boat to make a little trip of a day or two 
to visit some girl friend on the river. When the crowd already on the 
boat received the addition of those who had waited at the wharf boats, 
the long cabins would be completely filled with dancers. In some cases 
it has been found that the boats' cabins were not long enough and es- 
pecially at Shawneetown, where all were transferred to the big Millspaugh 
wharf-boat where there was room for all. Those were rare days for the 
young people. Most of the boats were side wheelers, and the deck back 
of the wheel house was always supposed to be the exclusive property of 
spooning couples and no young man without some gushing belle on his 
arm ever dared venture back, for if he did, a sudden pushing of chairs and 
the dead silence which would ensue would soon make him realize that he 
was entirely out of place. Thinking back I can safely say that many a 
staid business man and stately matron of today will read these lines and 
think of the joyousness of those old times as I have described them and 
perhaps remember the night on which they were pushing their chairs as 
closely together as possible and were rudely interrupted. Even the pilots 
did their part toward' entertaining and while most of them have now gone 
to meet Mark Twain, there are still a few left. Their duty was to enter- 


tain the crowds who always visited the pilot house and hundreds of ladies 
along the river who have now reached mature years, will remember how 
they used to be allowed to steer the boat under the guidance of these same 
good old pilots. A trip on the railroad seated in a Pullman car, with 
every comfort close at hand, may be all right, but it does not have the 
witchery of those old nights on the river where the moonbeams shone on 
the waters and the soft and gentle river breeze fanned the brow, and eyes 
looked love to eyes that looked love again. 






In the early history of the city of Evansville, the name Lamasco ap- 
pears in many places. For years no one residing in the upper part of the 
city ever spoke of going to the west end. Nor did they use any term indi- 
cating the geographical location of that part of the city which lay below 
Division street. Speaking of going to that locality the common expression 
was, "I am going down to Lamasco." Many who have come in recent years 
will wonder from what source this locality derived this strange name, 
which sounds so much like the Indian name, Chicago, for instance. But 
the name was from a combination of the names of four of the early found- 
ers of the lower part of the city. A tract was laid out by four men, Johii 
and William Law, Mr. Macall and Mr. Scott, and the name was made by 
taking the first letters of Law and Macall and the first three of Scott, 
thus making a name which certainly was out of the ordinary. Their tract 
took in all that part of the city lying between Division street and Pigeon 
creek. It was on Second avenue at the comer of Pennsylvania that the 
two story frame house of Judge John Law stood for many years. The place 
is now torn down and in its stead is a factory. But for long years it was the 
great gathering place for all the democratic politicians of this part of the 
state and in fact the judge received visitors who stood high in democratic 
circles from almost all parts of the country. He had on the comer a small 
law office which he called his den. His home was presided over by his 
most estimable wife, the lady loved and honored by every one who knew 
her. Her hospitality was boundless and in dispensing it she was assisted 
by her two bright daughters, Anna and Carrie. The former married a 
man in Terre Haute, while the younger became the wife of David J. 
Mackey. Messrs. Macall and Scott moved away from here but the judge 
remained here until his death. The beautiful annex in the rear of Grace 
Presbyterian church, is a monument given by Mrs. Mackey to commemorate 
the memory of her parents. Mr. Edward E. Law of upper First street is 


the only living member of this family, which in its day was the most prom- 
inent in Evansville. It was in 1857 that Lamasco was annexed to Evans- 
ville. Up to that time they had existed as separate municipalities, but 
their business and social interests had long been as one and the union of 
the two and the doing away with any dividing line added materially to the 
prosperity of both. Some years after the annexation there was a move 
made on the part of quite a number of citizens, and vigorously endorsed 
by the Shanklin Brothers of the Courier to change the name of Evansville 
to Lamasco. The claim they made was in many respects a very just one, 
that is that the entire United States was filled with little villes and they 
quoted Stewartsville, Owensville, Spotsville, Boonville, Lynnville, Taylor- 
ville and other little places of like size, as indicating that the termination 
"ville" simply meant village and regarding Evansville, all who did not know 
her and her size, would class her, naturally, with the rest, as a sort of 
"Evans Village." Messrs. Geo. and Gilbert Shanklin wrote very many 
forcible editorials on this subject and they were convincing to the great 
majority of our people. The only argvmient against it was put forth by 
the merchants and manufacturers who claimed that this would cause them 
the outlay of an immense amount of money, as all their stationery would 
have to be changed and that people all over the country would not know 
what had become of the city of Evansville. In opposition to this the Shank- 
lin brothers stated and very justly, that there were at that time, five dif- 
ferent Evansvilles in the confines of the United States and that mail was 
continuously being sent to Evansville, Illinois, and Evansville in other 
states, which should come to Evansville, Indiana, and that when it became 
known that the very ordinary name of Evansville had become changed to 
such a striking name as Lamasco, which stood in a class by itself, other 
papers in the United States would make more or less mention of it and the 
fact that the increase in Evansville made it necessary to take ofif the vil- 
lage part, would be the greatest advertisement that any city could possibly 
get. With the business which would accrue from its free advertising, it 
would repay a thousand times over, any little loss in stationery, etc. Look- 
ing back now, it would seem that to simply change a few signs, print a few 
new books and after using up the stationery on hand, buy new stationery 
with the proper heading, was not such a terrible task after all. It is prob- 
ably a fact that the old fogy spirit, at one time such a marked part of Evans- 
ville, had a great deal to do in preventing the change. Most of the old 
fogies are dead and gone and the city has received such an infusion of new 
blood, that it has practically changed. As it is now, it is probably too late 
to ever take up this matter again. Evansville today is known north, east, 
west and south and her progress has made such strides that she will soon 
be numbered not only among the great cities of the west, but among the 
great cities of the United States. About the only consolation left to those 
who worked so hard and so conscientiously for this change of name is the 
fact that our sister cities of Louisville and Nashville still retain the ville 


and will probably never attempt any change in name. This city was made 
a port of entry in 1856. At that time most of the stufif that came in was 
from other cities, but manufacturing soon took such rapid strides in the 
way of progress, that nearly everything neded in this line could bear the 
imprint, "Made in Evansville." In speaking of the various decades in the 
history of Evansville, it might be said that the second decade ended in 1867. 
The war which was so blighting to all her industries at first, proved after- 
wards to be of great good. A writer says, speaking of the situation, "The 
south found itself as the result of four years of civil war, entirely pros- 
trated, without industry, without tools, without money, credit or crops. 
Deprived of legal self-government and to a great extent, of political priv- 
ileges. The flowers of its youth were in hospitals or dead upon the bloody 
storm rent battlefields. With society disorganized and starvation immi- 
nent or actually present." The first eflforts of these people to lift them- 
selves up from this gloomy condition were opposed by great obstacles. 
For two years the cotton and corn crops were almost failures and one 
great difficulty was experienced in making satisfactory arrangements for 
the employment of labor. The south had no manufacturing establishments 
and were therefore compelled to buy even its breadstuffs and clothing, and 
of course its mechanical and agricultural tools in northern America. This 
she had always been accustomed to do and while it is a fact afterwards 
demonstrated that the south, all this time, was one vast bed of mineral 
resources so needed, no attempt had ever been made to utilize this great 
source of wealth. The heavy duties placed on all imported articles during 
the war, forced home manufacturers to take advantage of the situation, for 
no foreign country could hope to compete with our home manufactures. 
Before leaving that great subject of the employment of labor, which worked 
such ruin to the south for two years, it is well for this work to take some 
note, based on facts that are absolutely known to the author. After the ne- 
groes were freed throughout the entire south, they seemed to think that free- 
dom meant no more work. Even the steadiest and best of them caught the 
fever and the south was literally alive with dissolute lazy and shiftless ne- 
groes, who finding that they could not go to old master or old mistress when 
they wanted something to eat, were forced to get it in any manner they could. 
I have every respect for an honest hard-working colored man and abso- 
lutely no respect for a worthless nigger. There were a few of the good 
ones, who, be it said, to their credit, staid on the old plantations and tried 
by every means in their power to help their really starving former owners. 
But unfortunately, of this class there were only a few and now for the 
worst blot of all. A blot which can never be erased from the history of 
American politics. The south was overrun with a horde of disreputable, 
lazy and trifling scoundrels picked up from the very dregs of political bum- 
mery and forced on these poor and already long-suffering people. They 
went under the name of carpet baggers. I saw men in the south holding 
positions who should have been in cells in jails. Their villainous counte- 


nances were enough to send them to any penitentiary in the country and 
why the great republican party, which has always held in its ranks so many 
great and good men, should ever make the mistake of selecting a gang of 
scoundrels such as these carpet baggers, and force them on the south to 
represent the republican party, is something I could never understand. If 
this very plain statement should hurt the sensitive feelings of any gentle- 
man, he has only to remember that the writer stands good for any remark 
that he makes in this work and further, the negroes, if let alone, would 
have done far better. The negro, taken as a race, is full of affection as a 
rule, and if let alone the affection for their old owners, who invariably 
treated them with kindness, would have caused them to have staid and 
worked, but these unscrupulous scoundrels, let loose by the north, seemed to 
imagine that a part of their political duties was not only to oppress the white 
as much as possible, insult them at every opportunity, but to also stir up the 
negroes into the most violent antipathy against their native south. The 
first years of the second depression which affected the city of Evansville 
was the year 1867, for it was during this year that the National Bankrupt 
act was put in force. This brought not only great financial embarrass- 
ment, but a wide-spread distress. People feared to trust each other, as all 
over the country men who really had no occasion to take up the bankrupt 
act and who, if they had put their shoulders to the wheel, could have re- 
trieved any business losses, took occasion of this very easy manner of pay- 
ing off all debts and bankrupted. While there were no large failures in this 
city, there was hardly a merchant or manufacturer who had been sending 
goods away from here, who did not suffer from bankruptcies of this kind 
by the merchants in the smaller towns. There were many well-known 
cases where unscrupulous dealers simply robbed the Evansville men of 
their goods. One fact is worthy of comment and that is that the credit 
of very few of our local men was at all impaired. Our business men, even 
in those days, were substantial men. They were liberal in their dealings 
with their customers and were enterprising, but none of them ever allowed 
their business to get beyond their capital or their ability to control it and 
it is also remarkable that there was no decline in real estate values. This 
has marked Evansville during all its history and while at times her people 
have grumbled at taxation on needed street improvements, there has never 
been a time when good real estate was thrown on the market at bargain 
counter prices and from now on it is safe to say that real estate pripes will 
ever be on the increase. The rental value of buildings declined during this 
period of depression, as did wages and the prices of building materials. In 
fact, the improvements on property decreased in value but the real property 
itself, never. From time to time every one predicted a change for the better 
but their hopes were not realized. The greatest crash came in the year 
1873, when there were failures on every side and a period of disaster began. 
It is unfortunate that just prior to this time, a large number of improve- 
ments had been put under way. A large rolling mill, which would have 


given work to many hands, was allowed to go to decay almost before a 
single rail was made. The greatest hopes were based on the success of this 
enterprise, for it was hoped that constant work at this establishment, which 
was a huge one, would result in the bringing of thousands of tons of mag- 
nificent iron ore which was then along the Tennessee river. And when we 
look back and see the developments that have occurred in that region since 
that date and how such places as Birmingham and the great iron mines on 
Tennessee river have prospered, we can see what Evansville lost from 
the failure of this enterprise. The holders of stock in this rolling mill were 
among our most conservative citizens and they are not in any way to be 
blamed for the failure of this enterprise. It was the natural depression 
which caused it. It was at this time that congress appropriated the money 
for the beautiful postoffice and custom house which is on the square front- 
ing on Second, between Sycamore and Vine. Before the erection of this 
building, the lot was covered with small and unsightly cottages, while at the 
west was the remains of what was known as the Young America Engine 
house. Work did not begin on this building at once and when it was finally 
taken up, a wise move was made in the selection of the late Mr. James H. 
McNeeley, one of the proprietors of the Journal, as supervisor of con- 
struction. A strange feature is that, in nearly every case where a building 
is erected by the United States, there is always a shortage at the end. 
Whether this is probably due to graft or mistaken estimates, or other 
sources, it is not the province of this work to say, but the fact to which I 
refer, is that at the completion of the entire building, with every detail ac- 
cording to specifications, Mr. McNeeley was able to turn back to the treas- 
ury, a part of the money which was originally appropriated. At this same 
time the St. George hotel was built. Where it now stands was the large 
old mansion of John Shanklin, one of the pioneers of the city, who came 
here from Ireland and whose advent has been previously mentioned. The 
old house stood well back in the beautiful yard and for many years had 
been one of the landmarks. It also was one of the old homes where hos- 
pitality was one of the prime features, and some few still live, who can 
remember when Mr. and Mrs. Shanklin and their most talented daughter, 
now Mrs. Gen. John M. Harlan, entertained in this old house. Evansville 
had long felt the need of a first-class hotel, modern in all its appointments. 
In fact, for many years whenever there was a gathering of any kind, either 
political, civil or otherwise, it was found impossible to entertain all the 
city's guests and the private dwellings of our people were called into use 
to house these visitors. The largest hotel prior to that time, was the old 
Sherwood house which was torn down to make room for the magnificent 
building of the Elks' Home, which is admitted by all to be one of the most 
striking pieces of architecture in this country, and one of which any city 
might well be proud. The St. George was built by David J. Mackey and the 
late Gus Lemcke, who served here for several years and finally left this city 
for Indianapolis, where he died, leaving a large fortune. The hotel was 


run by Mr. Lemcke for quite a number of years, as the many other plants 
in which Mr. Mackey was interested, took his entire time. Many will re- 
member the opening of this hotel, and as it occurred just at this time, it 
may be well to give a few matters of detail regarding its opening. The 
word had gone all over the little towns and the surrounding country, re- 
garding the great ball which was to be given to celebrate the inauguration 
of this new hotel and it is safe to say that there was not a belle within the 
radius of many miles, who was not busy upon her costume for many weeks 
prior to this occasion. The eventful night came and the new hotel which 
in those days was far ahead of anything that had been anticipated by the 
community, was ablaze with light. A committee of the best citizens, accom- 
panied by their wives, welcomed the people. The hotel was beautifully 
adorned with plants, etc., while in the large dining room the band of 
Henry Hart, a colored man who at that time was considered by our people 
to be the very king of music, was screened behind potted plants at the 
back end. The dance began at nine o'clock and lasted until daylight. Even 
to this day the remembrance of that eventful time still lingers in the hearts 
of many who are now content to sit quietly and watch the young people 
trip the light fantastic. The cost of the St. George was some $200,000. 
At this same time the street improvements, wharf improvements and some 
sidewalk improvements were taken up. This was far before the day of 
asphalt streets of artificial sidewalks. Prior to that time there had been 
very little done towards making better streets, save the tearing up of the 
planks on Main sreet, which gave it the name of Plank Road. Vitrified 
brick was also either unknown or an untried quantity here and to fill up the 
holes in the streets and produce a level surface which would not be af- 
fected by the rains or winter weather, contracts were made with a firm 
owning a large bank of gravel at Paducah, Kentucky. Main street was the 
first street improved and after being rolled, it certainly presented a beau- 
tiful appearance and our people thought that they had solved the matter 
of perfect streets for all time to come. But it was soon found that even 
this gravel, held as it was in place by a kind of clay, gave way during con- 
tinued bad weather and was soon full of the original ruts with which the 
people were trying to do away. They then tried filling these places with 
clear gravel but this also was a failure and for many years what might be 
called street improvements in Evansville, consisted in driving wagons 
around and putting loose gravel into these holes. About this time^ there 
seemed to be a change for the better in the affairs of the city. The de- 
pression had seemed to pass away and the desire to improve seemed to have 
taken possession of many of our people. Real estate still continued, as has 
been noted above, at a steady price, and always seemed to be based on 
actual value which improved gradually as the city grew. There has been 
little speculation, so to speak, in real estate in Evansville, since the early 
day, and by this is meant that there were few real estate boomers as the 
term goes, who were able to acquire a large holding of real estate at a 


low price, from people who felt compelled to sell, and sell at a 
feverish price, which is generally the result of a well-handled boom. 
About the only large tract which passed into strange hands, was what is 
known still as the Heidlebach and Elsas enlargement. This tract of land 
lying southeast of Main street and extending from where the Southern 
road now runs, to a point some quarter of a mile this side of Garvin's 
park. When this place was bought by these two investors who lived in 
Cincinnati, Ohio, there was nothing on it except the large cornfield to 
which reference is made in the article regarding the first fairs of Evans- 
ville. This tract was quite large. In fact, the deal was so large that 
many conservative citizens predicted that it would be a great many years 
before anything would ever be realized by these men who had made the in- 
vestment. Yet it is a fact that many years ago, the last block was sold 
and for a good percentage of profit, and the confines of the city have ex- 
tended so far beyond it, that it cannot now be even called a suburban plat. 
Speaking further of real estate, the next attempt was to build a suburban 
addition between this Heidlebach and Elsas enlargement, and Garvin's 
park. This was a private affair gotten up by several of our citizens and 
they, Mr. Mackey and the late William Heilman, who was one of the most 
clear-headed citizens who ever resided in Evansville, used their efforts to 
push the sale. It was not a success and to this day there is quite a lot of 
vacant land on Main street, this side of the enlargement and the park. 
Why this should be it is impossible to understand and while this work is 
being written, negotiations are going on between the city and Mr. Thomas 
E. Garvin, owner of this park, by which the former may acquire this beau- 
tiful tract of land, and when once known that this consummation is 
reached, the park will be beautified and remain forever a public park free 
to all citizens. It will be only a short time until every lot in the vicinity 
will be built upon. The confidence of our people in the future of this 
city never was more stronger shown than by the fact that this depression, 
as above mentioned, was hardly over before an era of building began, 
which was enormous for those days. The building season of that year will 
never be forgotten. Before it was one-third over every contractor and 
architect had more than he could possibly do and building material could 
not be manufactured fast enough to supply the steady demands. While in 
these days the amount may not seem large, the fact that over $2,500,000 
was spent during that one season, will give some idea of the extent of im- 
provement. Much of this success is due to the newspapers which at that 
time were of great assistance, not only in keeping up the courage of our 
citizens and by continually getting out special editions which they sent to 
every part of the country from which they thought manufacturers could 
be brought and it is due to the fact that they sent these out just at a time 
when- so many people who had suffered from he depression of other cities, 
knew hardly what to do, that many factories, as well as business men and 
many artisans were brought to this city. It might also be said that the 


population began to increase rapidly at that time, and not only the popula- 
tion but the wealth of the population. It is well known that a city may 
grow very fast in point of population, but that the new citizens who may 
enroll themselves among her people, may be the hand-to-mouth kind who 
fluctuate from one point of the country to another and whose advent to 
any city does not mean very much. In this case, however, the greater 
percentage, possibly eighty-five per cent of the people who came here, 
were thrifty Germans who knew what it was to live plainly, work hard 
and save up. always laying up something for a rainy day, and it is to this 
fact and this spirit among the people, so truly demonstrated by these Ger- 
mans, that Evansville today has, in proportion to her size, more first-class 
banks than any city in the United States. A still greater fact is, that never 
in the history of Evansville from the time of the starting of the old Canal 
bank on Water street, has there been a single bank failure. And it is ex- 
tremely pleasant to be able to chronicle such a striking fact as this. To 
give one example, the People's Savings Bank, which is now one of the 
strongest financial institutions in the country, which has unlimited capital 
behind it, started as a small bank, operated chiefly by Germans. In fact, 
there were only two foreign people in the directory. This bank was in- 
tended to meet the demands of the working men, the small merchants, 
women who were making their ovra livelihood and classes of that kind. 
It was the first bank in Evansville to receive small deposits and when its 
announcement was made, it was astonishing to note how quickly a large 
clientele of deposits was secured. Its business increased so rapidly that 
it became cramped for space and erected one of the most beautiful build- 
ings on Main street. The various banks of Evansville will be treated of 
elsewhere in this work but it is only right to give credit to this splendidly 
conducted bank, for its wonderful success. In 1880 the census takers gave 
this city a population of about 30,000, but it was always claimed by every 
one who was at all posted on the ratio of a census taken in connection with 
the number of children in the city schools and the names in the directory, 
should have made it 40,000. At that time the assessed valuation of prop- 
erty was about $20,000,000. It was also at this time that the stores were 
doing their great volume of business. It is estimated that wholesale gro- 
ceries sold nearly $4,000,000 per year, dry goods and notion houses, 
$3,000,000, hardware, $2,000,000, boots and shoes, $2,000,000, glass and 
queensware, $350,000. The great strides made by Evansville since that 
date have been in manufacturing, the work being done by utilizing the 
great wealth of forests and fields and the mines into implements and arti- 
cles of general use and it is a fact perhaps unknown to all that today 
Evansville has the reputation of having more different varieties of man- 
ufacturing industries than any city in America. In fact, there is hardly 
anything on which a stamp could not be put, "Made in Evansville." To- 
day its chief thing is manufacturing. Our manufacturers are sending 
their goods to all parts of the world. Even as far back as the date above 


mentioned, it was estimated that $3,500,000 were invested in manufactur- 
ing plants. The most of these were small and such has been the wonderful 
growth since that time that the change is almost like a dream. Evansville 
is the largest hardwood lumber market in the world and will be for some 
time. Naturally the time will come when the vast forests which have con- 
tributed their wealth of timber, will all be gone. Even Green river, which 
for years was lined with dense forests which were supposed to be almost 
inexhaustible in the way of furnishing lumber, is beginning to show what 
the ruthless axe has done. But it must be remembered that science is con- 
tinually coming to the aid of nature and that it is also universally believed 
that concrete houses will soon take the place of those built of any other 
kind of material. When they come into general use, a part of the great 
demand on these forests will be withdrawn, so that no fear need be felt 
that there will be any great shortage in lumber supplies for a great many 
years to come. In one other respect Evansville, which seems to have been 
blessed in every way, was fortunate in having near it, the kind of material 
used in brick making and while all over the United States there are untold 
thousands of places that have been compelled to send away for their brick, 
and in some cases pay enormous freight rates, in Evansville it was only 
necessary to go almost anywhere on the outskirts of the city and start a 
brickyard. In fact, several years ago, it was almost impossible to drive 
out any country road for any distance without several of these yards being 
seen. Especially was this the case near the tri-state fair grounds. In any 
part of the land near there, the very best of brick clay could be found. At 
one time when the demand for paving bricks was so great in this country, 
a movement was started to manufacture them here on a large scale, but for 
some reason the Evansville brick did not compare as favorably with some 
others as was expected and this industry has never been considered one of 
the chief ones. Statistics given in 1885 showed that there were under the 
city two veins of coal which were reached by ten different shafts and that 
within a radius of 30 miles there were sixty shafts in operation. At that 
time Evansville began to advertise "The cheapest fuel on earth. Coal 50c. 
per ton." The fact that there was so much coal near here and the added 
fact that the cost of production was only what the labor cost, made our 
people content to accept what nature had provided and there never has 
been in this city that feverish anxiety regarding natural gas, which has 
permeated so many other portions of the state. As it is today, there are 
untold millions of feet of gas anci untold thousands of gallons of oil that 
could be piped into this city at any time our people deem it necessary. 
Many years ago a little company of citizens determined to bore for gas or 
oil more as an exepriment than anything else and selected a spot near the 
bank of Pigeon creek. After many reverses, they struck, instead of gas or 
oil, a vast stream of salt water. This water was what formed what is 
known as the old Salt Pdol. Finding it impossible to get through this vein, 
all attempt to bore through was given up. The machinery was sold and 


the buildings allowed to go to decay. The vein was afterwards trans- 
ferred through pipes to a point up the hill and this is today known as 
Mineral Spring Pool, although most people still use the old name of Salt 
Pool. This land, it is claimed, will be utilized by the Big Four railroad 
but it is to be hoped that the pool can still be kept up. The bathing is far 
superior to ocean bathing, for in the case of the latter, there is generally 
a surf and at all times, either sand, gravel or shells, while at the pool one can 
take a genuine salt plunge as good, if not superior to one in the ocean and 
at the same time do away with all danger of cutting the feet. While it 
will never be a fashionable resort, there are thousands of our citizens who 
enjoy it every summer. While speaking of the natural resources of Ev- 
ansville and before taking up her further progress, it is well to state that 
Evansville is in the midst of what is known and recognized as the corn 
belt ; that is, the belt in which the best corn in the United States is grown. 
Also three-fifths of all the tobacco grown in the United States is produced 
within a circle about Evansville extending over lOO miles. While it was 
known as a tobacco market, ten thousand hogsheads were sold here each 
year. As is well known, however, the tobacco interests have been trans- 
ferred elsewhere but their place has been taken by other products of equal 

"The greatest hardwood lumber market in the world." 
Years ago when the first little pamphlet, telling about the advantages 
of Evansville was issued to the world, this line appeared. There were 
many of our own citizens who imagined that it must be either a misprint or 
a claim which could not be substantiated by actual facts, yet at that time and 
today the statement holds absolutely good. Evansville is not only the 
greatest hardwood lumber market in this section, but in the entire world. 
Figures cannot lie, and the fact has been proven over and over that Evans- 
ville leads all competitors. It was the knowledge of the wonderful lum- 
ber resources of Evansville that caused foreign capital to come in here 
from time to time as was the case of the Hermann Manufacturing Com- 
pany and others. The great reason for the fact that Evansville holds this 
position can readily be seen by any one who will simply study geography. 
In no other place in America is there a city situated on a great river such 
as is the Ohio where her geographical location shows that so large a por- 
tion of the soil adjacent to her was what was known as solid woods. Look- 
ing at the map one will see that as far as Louisville, Kentucky, both sides 
of the Ohio river were simply masses of dense forests. In Indiana this 
extends close to the middle of the state. In Kentucky they took in almost 
the entire state and through this part of Kentucky ran Green river, a very 
deep stream, and its tributaries. Pond river and Barren river. Any one who 
hunted in Kentucky in the old days will remember what was known as 
the Barren river flats, a vast strip of country almost uninhabited, which 
overflowed every year and which was filled with untold millions of natural 
forest trees of all varieties. The walunt, the pecan, hickory, ash and oak 


were found in vast quantities and these Kentucky forests extended not 
only to the mouth of Green river, but far down towards the point just 
across from the city, covering all the land which has now been cleared up 
and has been overflowed of recent years, when the river encroached on the 
land at the cut-off. Around Leavenworth, Indiana, and reaching clear 
back from that point, were immense forests and from the river there were 
various little creeks which penetrated so far up into the state that during 
the high water season, logs could be floated out into the Ohio. Great flat- 
boats had been built in the old days, away up almost at the source of these 
creeks and built when there was hardly enough water in them to cover the 
bottom but the builders well knew that with the first overflow there would 
be no difficulty in getting flat boats or barges of any size into the Ohio. 
Then take Pigeon creek. Most of us imagine that it runs back into the Ohio 
river just above the little own of Newburgh (and a portion of it does), 
but it must be remembered that even this small body of water has many 
ramifications and in the old days, extended into almost every section of the 
country north of Evansville and this side of White river. Above us were 
White river and Patoka river, both capable of floating logs and below 
lay the Big and Little Wabash, from the mouths of which it was not a 
hard task to bring up rafts with tow boats, though the great majority of 
lumber that came to Evansville was simply floated down from the streams 
above, and of recent years turned into the bank by the use of the little tow 
boats of which several are kept in constant commission. Years ago, and 
before the demand for lumber was so great, it was no unusual thing to see 
the entire bank of the river from clear above the city down below the 
mouth of Pigeon creek, completely lined with thousands and thousands of 
saw logs. Of course a small place was left for the wharf and for the land- 
ing of steamboats but all other spots were utilized for the logs. Any old 
citizen has seen them in great layers extending from the very highest point 
reached by a freshet clear down the bank to the river and then fresh rafts 
in the river itself. The same was true of Pigeon creek. The entire bank 
of Sweezer pond and the creek itself were simply one mass of logs. 
Many have seen them lying in long strings where the L. & N. yards now 
stand. North of Franklin street where the Armstrong Furniture Com- 
pany did an enormous business, every gully was full of logs. They were 
pushed up during the high water as far as they could go and were then 
left on the bank and sometimes were untouched for several years. The 
same is true of the E. Q. Smith's Chair Factory section, which has lately 
been taken by the city. All of us have seen even the mouth of the sewer 
at Oak street filled with logs, while all over the bank which is now filled 
up, were the long strings fastened together by the original strips just as 
they came from the waters above. But to see logs one should go to Green 
river where for several miles the entire river and banks have been full of 
them, leaving only a little" passage through which boats could come down 
from Spotsville. Above Spotsville it was the same. Between Spotsville 


and the next lock above, the log rafts were always in long strings as no 
lumberman ever wished to get his raft short enough to get it through the 
locks, but preferred to take it over the dam while the water was high. 
Fifty years ago logs were so plentiful as to be almost in the way and is 
there any old citizen who does not remember the great swimming places 
when everybody above Division street went to the upper saw logs and 
those below went to the lower saw logs, where at each place were plenty 
of spring boards and where young and old enjoyed themselves. During the 
afternoons great crowds would go up above the city where the old water 
works were built. The place is now the upper part of Sunset park and 
here they found a good current and splendid pure water, as the water from 
Green river found its way past there. Of course after dark the entire 
bank from the wharf boat up, was alive with bathers and from points all 
over, laughter could be heard until midnight. There were few accidents 
then and it is hard to tell why, except that there was always such a crowd 
that if a boy was in any danger there were always sturdy swimmers to go 
to his rescue and in those days a boy had to learn. If he was caught 
standing around and shivering, afraid to go in, he would be quickly pushed 
in while the pusher would deem it his duty to see that no harm befell him. 
In this way everyone of the youngsters somehow knew how to swim at an 
early age and this perhaps is the reason for so few accidents. 

The experience of the early loggers was a great deal like that of the 
flat-boat men. The most of them who came here were a rough lot of back- 
woodsmen from up in the Lost, Barren and Pond river regions — great 
hunters, great lovers of whiskey and thorough backwoodsmen. To make 
their log rafts, they did exactly as did the old pioneers when they built 
their houses. No nails or iron of any kind was used on the entire raft, 
except perhaps a dozen or so in the little lean-to shanty which was always 
to be found just in the center of the middle tier of all big rafts. These 
rafts were made as follows : 

After the logs had been floated into the main river from the little pond 
and creeks, a log would be held and an auger hole bored in the top near 
each end. Over this would pass a strip which was a very tough branch 
split directly in the center and a hole would be bored in this and a wooden 
peg driven right through into the log. The upper part of the raft was al- 
ways fastened to some tree and the raft held in place by the current, while 
the lower logs in turn were floated down and joined together. After the 
raft was deemed long enough, a gouging oar similar to the one used on 
flat boats was put at each end. This in turn worked on a wooden peg. 
At one end of the raft, generally on the corner of the outside string, a lot 
of mud and clay would be fixed. This would be taken from the bank and 
beaten down until it made a hard flat surface similar to the hearth of the 
old country fire places, and holes were made in a log into which forked 
sticks were driven and over this hearth hung a kettle on which all the 
cooking was done. In the center of the little tier was a little lean-to shack. 

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I have seen them where they did not even use boards nor did they take the 
trouble to get straw on which to He but hke the primitive backwoodsman 
they built it with rough side logs and then gathered leaves for their beds. 
The entire outfit of the average raftsman consisted of one blanket and an 
extra pair of coarse and very heavy boots, as sometimes their feet were 
wet during the entire day but often times the young fellows who were 
making their first start, had only one pair of boots and dried out at night 
as best they could. And somehow the universal fiddle used to nearly al- 
ways be found on a raft and where two or three rafts would get together 
before entering the Ohio, tliere would be stag dances sometimes out on the 
bank and sometimes on the logs. These men, while not the equals of the 
raftsmen of Minnesota and the upper pine country, who could stand on 
a log and roll them beneath their feet and still keep their footing, yet still 
were expert loggers and with the spike and pole, they could stand on a 
log and take it almost anywhere they chose. The first mill here was the 
old Ahlering saw mill which stood where the residence of Mr. Walter M. 
Schmitt now stands. This existed there for many years and at one time 
did an enormous business. I think that the name of Pioneer Lumber King 
of Evansville rightly belongs to the late John A. Reitz, who came here in 
1836. At the time of his arrival, he had only a very small amount of 
money but he was full of energy and industry and having had exeprience 
in the flouring mills of his father in Germany, he naturally drifted into ma- 
chinery and worked for a Mr. Olmstead who had the saw mill on Pigeon 
creek, just where it is crossed by the Stringtown road. In 1845 he went 
into partnership with Judge Stephens and built a mill at the mouth of Pig- 
eon creek. This mill was very successful from the start and did a fine 
business until 1855 when it was burned down. He immediately rebuilt 
and again in 1873 tore down the old mill and put up a third modern build- 
ing. It is said that in the ten years from 1883 to 1893 he turned out more 
hardwood lumber than any one sawmill in the United States. He used a 
double shift of hands and six days of the week the mill was run for 22 
hours out of the 24. The two hours were allowed to go over the machin- 
ery, etc. While he made money in a great many ways, it is well known to 
most of our people that his saw mill was the real source of his wealth. 
So great did the demand for lumber become, that many others entered into 
it and just after Honorable John J. Kleiner was elected to Congress, he 
entered into partnership with Mr. Pat Raleigh, the only son of one of our 
oldest citizens and they built a splendid and most modem mill just below 
the other saw mills which were near the mouth of Pigeon creek. They put 
in the very best machinery that could possibly be gotten but there seemed 
to be some trouble about the handling of their logs. Possibly the very 
swift current just in front of their place made it impossible to hold the 
rafts there, but at any rate, the mill was dismantled. To give an idea of 
the many who have seen the great advantages in the lumber business in 
Evansville, the following list will be interesting: 


The Federal Stave and Lumber Company, in the Waverly building, the 
Indiana Tie Company in the Furniture Exchange building, the Mossman 
Lumber Company in the Waverly building, Anderson & Veatch, on 8th 
street, the Cottage Building Company on 8th street, the Evansville Lumber 
Company on Delaware street, the Evansville Planing Mill Company, also 
on Delaware, the Fullerton & Powell Lumber Company on East Virginia, 
the Great Helfrich Lumber and Mfg. Company on West Franklin, the 
McFerson & Foster on the Belt Railroad, the MacLaren Lumber Company 
on Division street, the Henry Maley Lumber Company on Greenriver Road, 
the Maley & Wertz Lumber Company on Columbia, the Mechanics' Plan- 
ing Company on Main, the New York Dimension and Supply Company at 
Florida and Devon, the big T. E. Rechtin Lumber Company on Seventh 
street, the Clement Reitz Sons Company on Seventh avenue, John A. Reitz 
and Sons Company on Seventh avenue, Schnute-Holtmann Company on East 
Illinois street, Shultze, Waltman & Company on Ninth avenue, Thompson, 
Thayer & McGowan Lumber Company, East Columbia, Young & Cut- 
singer, on Morgan avenue, and the Wolflin & Luhring Lumber Company at 
Division and Morton streets. All of these firms deal more or less in lum- 
ber and they handle everything from lathes to the very heaviest of bridge 
timber. In fact, a man can come to Evansville from anywhere in the 
United States and get almost anything he wants in the way of wood, from 
toothpicks to the very heaviest piece of section timber, and not only that, 
but he can get what he needs in almost any variety of timber, and this is 
where Evansville excels. We hear of the vast lumber yards of Chicago, 
"The Lumber District," so to speak, but there we see only Michigan pine 
and lumber of that kind. We go to a southern lumber yard and we find 
the southern pine and much of it now useless, because the immense pine 
trees of the south have nearly all been "Turpentined," as they call it. That 
is, the vitality of the tree has been entirely sapped through the use of the 
sap for the making of turpentine and the lumber left in the tree of this 
kind, lasts only a very short time. In otlier sections of the south is noth- 
ing but spruce and woods of that kind, while Memphis, which is striving 
so hard at present to become a great lumber center, is compelled to rely on 
her portion of the wood that can be gotten from the state of Missouri. 
Naturally St. Louis will claim the greater portion of this, as her own 
right, so that the future of Memphis as a great lumber center is very pre- 
carious. While on this subject, it is pleasing to know that in this very 
section of the country where lumber has always been so plentiful, men of 
forethought have seen that through the wonderful demand caused by the 
rapid growth of the west, natural lumber will soon become very scarce and 
with an eye to the future, thousands of acres of land which is not of high 
fertility, have been turned into forest preserves. That is, they have been 
planted with trees of the variety most necessary to make good building 
material and if there should be a scarcity in this vicinity for a few years, 
it will not be so long until the new crop will be ready to take the place of 


our old forests. Much has been said of the criminal waste of our trees in 
this very section, but this waste could not be helped. I have seen in clear- 
ings, where a farmer would open up a home, millions of feet of magnificent 
timber burned up to get it out of the way. So little did our forefathers 
care for the trees, that in building their rail fences, they often used walnut, 
because it split nicely. Think of the value of these walnut rails today. 
Years ago, when Eastern manufacturers were willing to pay almost any price 
for walnut, because it was used so much in veneering, thousands of walnut 
stumps were pulled up by stump pullers and in some cases, dug out by the 
roots and shipped on cars direct to New York city. Even if the pioneers 
had realized what the value of lumber would become in the future, they 
still should have been compelled to have used it, for this was long before 
the days of barb-wire fences and there were no stones in this country as 
there are all through New England and there was absolutely no way to 
build fences except with this timber, and of course the best grade timber 
which split the most easily was invariably selected, and of course he could 
not allow these great logs and branches to lie on the ground, so the only 
thing to do was to burn them up, and this was done as rapidly as possible. 
In this clearing up, even the small roots had to be gotten out of the way and 
they, with the smaller limbs and the "bresh," as they called it, were piled 
in huge piles of which the main branch of the tree formed the base and 
were set on fire. In thousands of cases that came under my own observa- 
tion, the magnificent forest trees were so thick that only a portion of them 
could be cut down and the others were girdled and allowed to stand. Of 
course in the spring after the girdling, the tree died and the branches fell 
one by one, but it is astonishing how long some of these old trunks have 
stood, for to this day in any except the very oldest farms which have been 
worked for many long years, they can be seen still standing like grim sen- 
tinels over the graves of their destroyed brethren. 

Very naturally after leaving the subject of lumber, comes furniture. 
One of its greatest productions and as a furniture market. Evansville is 
very rapidly encroaching on her reputation as a hardwood lumber market. 
Of recent years the business has grown to enormous proportions and wTiereas 
it was only a short time ago that Grand Rapids and possibly one or two 
other cities were spoken of as furniture markets, all eyes are turning now 
to Evansville, and carload lots are being sent from here to every part of 
the country. The building of what is known as the Furniture Exchange 
was a great step forward and it has been of inestimable benefit to the 
furniture men in general as it gave them a beautiful place in which to show 
their various makes. 

Going way back, it is a peculiar fact that the first furniture maker was 
the man who founded Evansville — Col. Hugh JNIcGary. He had no tools 
but an axe, but he is said to have been quite an artist and with his axe 
blade sharpened was almost as keen as a razor he could shave down 
the wood until it made quite a finished appearance. After fitting out his 


own house, his neighbors began to call on him to make furniture for them 
and while it was crude, it was said to be very substantial. His first tables 
were made by taking the broad logs, splitting them and then shaving them 
as smooth as possible with his axe. There was no sandpaper in those days 
and no way of setting in the legs except through the ever-ready augur hole 
and the legs of the tables were made by driving in pegs of timber which 
had already been smoothed by the axe. As a last finishing process, he took 
the flat pieces of sandstone which could be found at Pigeon creek at the 
Falls, and rubbed down the tops of his tables with this. These sandstones 
were so soft that they rapidly adapted themselves to rough surfaces and 
became smooth and were sometimes used in place of flat irons by the pio- 
neer mothers. Again they were used for sharpening knives, so that a good 
piece of sandstone was a valuable asset in any pioneer family. The first 
real furniture factory in Evansville was established in 1836 by the Poalk 
Brothers. It was on the ground where the Morgan residence next to the St. 
George now stands. It is wonderful to see what beautiful work could be 
turned out even in those days, for Mr. James Scantlin of upper 3rd street 
has two pieces made in 1836. One is a bureau and the other a sideboard and 
they are as perfect today as when they were turned out many years ago. The 
first successors of the Poalk Brothers were the Armstrongs who for many 
years were known as the furniture men of Evansville. They established 
various factories and for a long time owned one just to the right of the 
bridge over Pigeon creek on Franklin street. They started with small be- 
ginnings but made money very fast and soon needed up-town offices, so 
that just after Samuel E. Gilbert retired from business, they rented from 
him the property known as the Gilbert Block, which consisted of three 
stores. To accommodate them, arches were opened between the cellars and 
all four of the floors, so that their furniture could be moved easily from 
one part to another and here they remained for many years, paying $9,000 
per year rent until, wishing to strike out still further, they prevailed on 
Mr. D. J. Mackey to build them a building for furniture only and the 
house now occupied by the Ichenhauser plant was the result. The large 
open front and the fine light in this building together with the system of 
arrangement, is different from that of any other building in the city, with 
a view to giving the Armstrong's a better chance to display their work. 
For some years there were three of the brothers here, but two removed from 
the city and Mr. Uel Armstrong bought the old Barnes property at the 
head of Sunset park and resided there for many years, finally retiring from 
business and selling out to Mr. Puster, who at that time became about the 
only furniture man of note in Evansville. It was some years before a num- 
ber of enterprising men began to see the wonderful possibility for furni- 
ture manufacturing in this place but soon factories began to spring up 
everywhere. The furniture exchange was opened only a year ago and has 
60,000 square feet of space. It has attracted great attention everywhere 
and has been one of the best advertisements ever put out by the city. It 


grew out of a meeting of the furniture manufacturers and the prime mover 
in the matter was Ben Bosse, of the Big Six Carloading Association. He 
was aided by A. F. Karges of the Karges Furniture Company, H. H. Schu 
of the Crescent Furniture Company, H. J. Rusche of the Specialty Furni- 
ture Company, Edward Ploeter of the Bosse Furniture Company and the 
Evansville Metal Bed Company. It is said by those in a position to know, 
that the business has increased far beyond their expectations since this place 
was opened. Travelers have been here from all over the United States 
and even from foreign countries. There have been many new buyers who 
had never been here and who had never heard of Evansville as a furniture 
market until this building was put up. One of the merchants connected with 
it was asked where Evansville furniture was sold and he replied, "All over 
the world." It is a fact that there is not a state in the Union where Evans- 
ville furniture has not been sold of late. It has been sent to Mexico, Can- 
ada, Porta Rica, Panama, Cuba, the Philippines, and also to many countries 
in Europe. There is even now a representative of Evansville who is in 
South America, showing the different lines that are represented in this 
building. There is no reason why Evansville should not have great South 
American trade. The only competition that this city recognizes at all, is 
that of Grand Rapids, and with the saving in freight between here and that 
city, it will be but a short time until Grand Rapids will take second place. 
No one in the south or in the South American countries or in Cuba would 
think of sending to Grand Rapids and paying the difference in freight, 
when the same or better furniture can be sent direct from Evansville with 
a great saving in freight. Panama is taking quite a place and it is stated 
that six cars during one month have been sent to that place for distribu- 
tion. As a matter of note, Evansville furniture is now used by the royal 
family in England. About one year ago, the late King Edward sent a 
representative to the United States to buy furniture for his London Palace 
and this representative visited the various markets in this country in search 
of what he needed. We had no Evansville exchange at that time, but for- 
tunately the city had a large exhibit in St. Louis and the representative 
bought quite a lot of Evansville-made goods while there. It is claimed by 
our furniture men that practically every piece of furniture needed in a 
home is made right here in Evansville. One need not send away for any- 
thing and as to upholstering, that also can be done here, perhaps more 
cheaply than in any place in the United States. Mention has been made 
before, of the immense trade that will be brought to Evansville through the 
opening of the Panama canal and this applies practically to the furniture 
business, for when the Ohio river has the right stage, boats can be loaded 
right at this port for all points of the world. The furniture men all see 
this and realize what a great thing it will be. It is hard to tell just how 
much furniture is turned Qut at present, but $4,000,000 a year would be a 
very low estimate and with such increase as we had of late, it will be but a 
short time until $10,000,000 worth will be sent out yearly. We have the 


credit here for originating the mixed carload system. A buyer who lacks 
the means to buy a car of each line of goods that he needs in stock, can go 
to the exchange and buy a mixed lot, using one car which can be packed 
with chairs, beds, tables or bedroom suites just as he needs them to sort it. 
He thus gets a rate on a car and saves a great deal in his freight. This 
fact has been made a great point by the traveling man and merchants who 
heretofore have been compelled to pay full freight rates because they could 
not possibly use a carload at at time, are very much pleased with this new 
idea which gives them a chance to stock up in all other lines at the same time 
and at carload rates. At present, the president of the exchange is Mr. A. 
F. Karges, the vice president, H. J. Rusche, the secretary, H. H. Schu, 
and the treasurer, Ben Bosse, of the Big Six Carloading Association. They 
also serve as directors and are assisted by W. A. Koch and Edward Ploeger. 
They have also an Association of which the following are the officers: 
President, Eli D. Miller, folding bed manufacturer; vice president, H. J. 
Rosenberger; secretary and treasurer, Charles D. Gilbert. The directors 
are the same as those mentioned above. 

The upper part of the building and a portion of the front is used for 
offices. The furniture manufacturers say that in spite of the fact that 
lumber is said to be getting scarce, they have no trouble in getting all they 
want. They are heavy buyers and fine judges of lumber and know just 
exactly from whom to purchase their lumber. One of the association 
recently bought 3,000,000 feet of one concern. Of course they buy as much 
as possible from home dealers, but they also buy in Missouri, Arkansas, 
Kentucky and Tennessee. This southern lumber has to be shipped here by 
river as the freight rate by rail would be too much. Their buying in big 
lots keeps them in such a position that they never have to close down on 
account of a scarcity in any certain wood or grade of lumber. They also 
claim that the Big Four Railroad will be a great help in putting their goods 
into places with which they have heretofore been unable to compete. 

■ The following is a list of exhibitors at the Furniture Exchange build- 
ing, with the various lines they carry : 

Karges Furniture Company, chamber suits, wardrobes, chiffoniers and 
chiffon robes ; Specialty Furniture Company, chamber suits, chiffoniers and 
odd dressers ; Bosse Furniture Company, kitchen cabinets, wardrobes and 
kitchen safes; Evansville Desk Company, roll-top and flat-top office desks; 
United States Furniture Company, upright and mantel folding beds ; Buch- 
ner Chair Company, chairs and rockers; Evansville Bookcase and Table 
Company, extension tables ; The Metal Furniture Company, iron and brass 
beds and springs ; Schelosky Table Company, extension tables ; Star Furni- 
ture Company, chairs, tables and kitchen cabinets ; Marstall Furniture Com- 
pany, wardrobes; Chair Makers' Union, cane and splint seat chairs and 
rockers ; Crescent Furniture Company, sideboards, buffets, china cabinets and 
chamber suits; Globe Furniture Company, chamber suits, sideboards and 
odd beds ; Evansville Metal Bed Company, iron and brass beds and springs ; 


Stolz-Schmitt Furniture Company, chamber suits, chiffoniers, hall trees, 
dressing tables; Bockstege Furniture Company, parlor, library and exten- 
sion tables; Indiana Furniture Company, beds, safes, tables, wardrobes 
and kitchen cabinets ; World Furniture Company, folding beds, buffets, 
hall trees, china closets and bookcases; Crown Chair Company, cane and 
wood seat chairs and rockers; Eli D. Miller & Co., upright and mantel 
folding beds; Evansville Mattress and Couch Company, davenports, 
couches, springs and cots ; Evansville Trunk Company, trunks, hand satch- 
els, etc. ; Troy Chair Company, cane and splint seat chairs and rockers ; 
Hobenstein-Hartmetz Company, music cabinets; Becker Wagon Works; 
Henderson Desk Company, roll-top and flat-top office desks; Southern 
Stove Works, the Leader line; Indiana Stove Works, makers of the Darling 
line; Crescent Stove Works, manufacturers of the Crescent line; Evansville 
Stove Works, manufacturers of the Evansville Model line, and the Ad- 
vance Stove Works. 

Manager Gilbert of the Exchange building says the number of visitors 
and buyers at the Exchange increases daily and that he believes this is go- 
ing to be one of the best years the manufacturers of furniture and stoves 
have had in a long time. Inquiries and orders are both on the increase 
and trade has opened up nicely since the first of March. The local factories 
are running on full time and in some of the departments night shifts are 
being worked. 

Since the beginning of this work a consolidation has been made which 
will make Evansville the greatest furniture market in the world. 

The Globe, World and Bosse Furniture manufacturing companies, com- 
prising four distinct plants, one of which is under course of erection, were 
merged into the Globe-Bosse- World Furniture Company with a capitaliza- 
tion of $600,000, all subscribed and paid into the treasury. The merger 
is the result of a plan devised by Benjamin Bosse, who has been the lead- 
ing spirit in the furniture making plants affected by the combine. The 
merger gives Evansville the largest single furniture manufacturing com- 
pany in the world, the second largest being that at Sheboygan, Wis. 

The new corporation elected Benjamin Bosse, president; Albert F. 
Karges, vice president; C. M. Frisse, secretary, and E. W'. Ploeger, treas- 
urer. These officers and the following constitute the directorship; John 
W. Boehne, Fred Bockstege, H. J. Karges, H. F. Reichmann and Henry 
F. Bosse. 

The capital stock of the original Globe, World and Bosse plants was 
$400,000. Additions to old factories and the erection of a new one have 
justified a 50 per cent increase in the capital stock. 

The new combine will have a pay roll of $250,000 annually, will employ 
600 men and manufacture goods worth more than $1,000,000 each year. 

Economy of management and the saving of duplication in manufacture 
will be desirable results to' be obtained by the combine. The factories in- 
cluded in the merger have all been built within ten years. 








In the year 1867 the people of Evansville decided that the place had 
taken on enough airs to begin the construction of a street car line and the 
officials immediately corresponded with capitalists in the east who had 
made a business of things of this kind with a view of inducing them to 
locate a line here. Several of our local capitalists were inclined to go in 
with them but four citizens took all the stock and it was but a short time 
until Main street, which was then entirely unimproved, was all torn up 
and rails were being put down. Up to that time Main street was of course 
the popular street of travel and it was decided that the one route which 
would at once commence to do a land office business, ought to extend from 
the top of the levee to the E. & T. H. depot at 8th and Main. This, they 
decided, would do away with omnibus, hacks, etc., and the traveler coming 
from the south and wishing to go north, and, vice versa, his brother coming 
down from Chicago going to the south, would find a speedy means of tran- 
sit and at the time this Main street track was laid down, there was little 
or no talk about a line in any other part of the city. The work was done 
very speedily and it was soon announced in the papers that on a certain 
afternoon the street cars would begin running, (and for some reason while 
the people of the east spoke of these early cars as horse cars, we onlv knew 
then as street cars in Evansville) . Promptly on time the car was loaded at 
the top of the levee and the one horse was attached to it and started to 
pull it but was unable to do so, so the crowd disembarked and very genially 
pushed it up to First and Main, when they went on their way rejoicing. 
It was found soon afterwards that this one block from Water to First could 
well be left out and the track was torn up and it is a fact that for a great 
many years and not until the lines were run into the hills below the city, 
this was the only real grade in the entire city of Evansville. And where is 
there another city of this size of which the same could be said ? Cars that 


are now going by the name of dinky cars, a few of which still remain in 
possession of the company as mementoes, were well patronized and while 
our people were used to exercise and cared very little for such a small 
thing as a walk of 8 blocks, they patronized the cars for the novelty of the 
thing. For a long time the single horse was used in the cars, when it was 
decided that mules were better propositions than horses, as they were sturdy 
little fellows and could stop and start without pulling themselves all to 
pieces as a horse did. About the next move was to get up a cross city line 
and as Cook's park was then the chief attraction in the suburbs, it was de- 
cided to run the line to that point and as there was a lot of cheap ground 
across from the park, it was utilized for the street car stables. About this 
time Mr. C. R. Bement was the chief holder of the stock and I think even- 
tually controlled the most of it. This first line to Cook's Park ran along a 
raised road on one side of which was a hugh gully and near Fulton Avenue 
on the right-hand side going out, was another. In fact, that whole portion 
of town was cut up by hugh gullys which had been made by the overflow 
of water coming into Pigeon creek so that if an old pioneer could see that 
country today, he would hardly recognize it. Shortly after this there was a 
demand for car lines in all directions and one of the next to be built was a 
line to Oak Hill Cemetery. The first superintendent of the carlines here 
was a Mr. Wieland, a man from the east. He was succeeded by William 
Dean and he in turn by Billy Bahr, who was at the head of a great many 
changes and improvements. Then came Thomas Gist, also a practical street 
car man and then Mr. Herbert D. IMoran, who represented a line of en- 
tirely new stockholders. They had plenty of money behind them and on the 
iSth of September, 1892, the first electric car was run. These, of course, 
would not compare to the cars of today, but it is due to the company to 
say that they have kept up with the march of improvement, have introduced 
better cars as fast as they were made and have today a very creditable 
outfit. After Mr. Moran retired, R. Smith became superintendent and then 
Mr. Fletcher M. Durbin, who holds the position at present. The company 
now has 36 miles of city lines and 31 miles of interurban lines. Many of 
these lines which reach out into these neighborhoods, do not pay anything 
on the investment but as new factories come in and these waste places will 
be settled, the travel will become more extensive and the street car company 
will begin to reap its reward. 

It was in 1888 that the first electric railroad in the United States was 
put in operation at Richmond, Indiana. Electricity as a motor was then 
only in the early stages and it seemed as if everyone connected with the 
advance of electricity was determined to keep his knowledge profoundly a 
secret and all outsiders were excluded. Those who dealt in electrical mo- 
tors had little to say about them but seemed to attempt to make their busi- 
ness mysterious. But many street railroad companies looked forward to 
storage battery cars as the only substitute for the horse car. Storage 
batteries had not proven a success and had been abandoned in several 


places. It will be remembered that almost the first forward step in this 
part of the country in the way of getting rid of horse or mule power was 
taken up by Chicago with her cable lines and when it was found that they 
could be operated successfully, street car men seemed to feel that there 
was no need of their going further, but in Evansville no one thought of 
ever putting in a cable line. The street car men waited until the fact had 
been demonstrated that the trolley line was the only practicable method of 
running a car and though their first cars were more or less crude, it was not 
long until they had as good cars as could be built anywhere in this country. 
There has been some little trouble in Evansville as to the weight of the 
rails used and as to just what rights regarding the streets the railroad 
companies have and there have been many arguments on this question. 
However, these have been amicably adjusted, yet it is a fact well known 
to many citizens that when new streets have been put down the street car 
company has come very far from paying its proper proportion of the ex- 
penses. The asphalt on Walnut street is a very good case to which to refer. 
Where a double track exists the sum charged up to the property owners 
on Walnut street for the improving of the street was nothing more or less 
than outrageous, but the average citizen knew that all his time spent in 
kicking was wasted. Verily, the ways of asphalt are hard to understand. 
I know a whole lot about the matter, but what's the use of putting it in 
this book? Trinidad Pitch Lake Asphalt! Oh, ye suckers! 


Today many of us wonder how it is that Evansville, with all of its nat- 
ural advantages, has not grown faster, and it is indeed a strange fact, with 
its beautiful level country around it, its beds of coal, its mighty river, its 
geographical position, its climate, its hospitable people. There is every- 
thing to recommend and I will now say that as far ago as the year 1850 
these natural advantages appealed to at least one man. Mr. Samuel E. Gil- 
bert had been in business in Mobile, Alabama, and having had a severe at- 
tack of yellow fever, was told by his physicians that he could not live longer 
in the South. He was then in the mercantile business for which he seemed 
well fitted and at once decided that he would move to the North and locate. 
At that time the little city of Madison was being boomed and he had heard 
of it from friends in the South and, leaving his business, he took his wife 
and son and taking a steamer started to Madison to look over the situation. 
At that time he had heard of Louisville, Kentucky, but had never heard 
of the name of Evansville, Indiana. When the boat reached this point, the 
captain told him that they would be delayed for some three hours, putting 
on freight, and told him that he might look over the little place, as it was 
getting to be quite a shipping point. Mr. Gilbert came up Main street and 
walked around the village and noticed the lay of the land, talked to some 
of the people and was very much impressed. He then returned to the boat 


and proceeded to INIadison, Indiana. This latter place was somewhat in 
advance of Evansville in the way of culture and other things, but he noted 
that back of it were rows of hills and saw that there was no chance for a 
city to extend its limits in any direction without going up these hills, which 
of course meant that it would never be a great wholesale or manufacturing 
city, but simply a city of homes. He also decided that it was too near 
Louisville and Cincinnati to ever hope to compete with these two places 
as a wholesale center. With the little city of Evansville still in his mind, 
he came back, hired a buggy of Joe Setchell, one of the old livery men, and 
drove out back through the country roads in every direction and when he 
returned, he said to Mr. Setchell, as he delivered his team, "You have a 
chance for a great city here and I am going to come here to locate, al- 
though I never heard of the place until last week." He brought his wife 
and son down from Madison, rented a building from Thomas Scantlin on 
Sycamore street just back of the Orr Iron Store and started the first ex- 
clusively w^holesale grocery in Evansville. At that time there were two 
other firms, Bement & Viele and Heiman Bros. Both of these firms were 
in the grocery business, but had retail counters in connection. Mr. Gilbert 
decided that a good wholesale business could be worked up in this territory 
and taking a horse he went into Kentucky, up through the Green river 
country and succeeded in selling quite a lot of goods. He told the mer- 
chants in that country that if they had no money they could send down 
hides, furs, beeswax, tallow, or, in fact, anything that would sell, and they 
could get everything they wanted from him in the grocery line. Soon after 
that he engaged the late William H. Rust, who for many years was one of 
the old landmarks about the city and he was the second drummer to ever 
go out of Evansville. About that time Captain Frank P. Carson be- 
gan to travel for the old Preston firm. This firm was at first Keen & 
Preston, but afterward the partnership was dissolved and they occupied 
separate stores. It soon began to be demonstrated that quite a large scope 
of country would buy goods from Evansville, if merchants were properly 
approached, and new wholesale houses began to spring up, so that by the 
time the war began the wholesale trade of Evansville was simply wonder- 
ful. There was keen competition in every line of business, whereas at the 
present there are some lines which have almost a monopoly, but in those 
days there were keen business rivals in every branch. A great amount of 
money was made by these wholesale men, who had the foresight to see 
that the war would create a great advance in prices, and many of them 
used every cent they could raise and used their credit to its greatest ex- 
tent to purchase goods. At this time Samuel E. Gilbert, before mentioned, 
built a large brick warehouse in the rear of his residence on Second street, 
and packed it full with all sorts of articles that he knew would rise in price. 
He obtained a great deal of money through his marriage to his first wife 
and through this reason was enabled to lay in this very large stock. When 
the war came on the wholesale business was making rapid strides and the 


only drawback the merchant had arose from the fact that they could not 
send goods to the South as fast as they were ordered, for a line of gun- 
boats were soon along the Ohio river and to be allowed to ship goods even 
to our close neighbors in Kentucky, it was necessary to get a permit from 
a provost marshal on one of these boats. It is a matter of history that in 
those days there was more or less favoritism. Firms who had come here 
from Kentucky and Tennessee and were as loyal citizens as any were not 
allowed to send out goods to fill their orders in many cases, while mer- 
chants who had come from the districts in the East had no trouble in get- 
ting their permits. At times there was usually a gunboat in front of Ev- 
ansville but at times it would leave for other points and when it came back 
and anchored, there would be a perfect fleet of skiffs taking the representa- 
tives of these wholesale houses out to the gimboats to get these permits. 
When the war closed no city in the United States reaped more benefit than 
those in this section. If course Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis, being 
larger, sold more goods, but Evansville got her full share. The South, 
after its four years of dire struggle, was almost in poverty and in many 
parts whole districts had barely the common necessities of life and they 
naturally turned to the North to get aid, and the position that Evansville 
held as the gateway to the South, so to speak, worked much to her advan- 
tage. Again, some of our best citizens had come from the southern states 
and located with us, so that there was a bond of sympathy which also had 
its effect. For several years after the war the trade kept growing. It 
was found that the houses were totally insufficient to accommodate the 
business and what is known as the wholesale district sprung up. The 
first block below Sycamore street was built by Samuel E. Gilbert and was 
known for many years as Gilbert's block. It was partially destroyed by 
fire some years ago. While D. J. Mackey was in the height of his pros- 
perity, and leading member of the firm of Mackey Nisbet Company, he 
built their present building and also the magnificent building now occupied 
by the Hinkle Nisbet Company and Leich Drug Co. and others, while 
across the street Geo. S. Sonntag, Cyprian Preston andothers built up until 
the square between Sycamore and Vine on First was a complete row on 
both sides of handsome buildings. In those days it was not an unusual 
sight to see the sidewalks completely covered and piled with goods reach- 
ing clear out into the middle of the street, so that there was barely room 
for two drays to pass each other and a great majority of these goods" went 
South. It is a strange fact, but nevertheless true, that even in those days 
the country north of Evansville never seemed to care to patronize it in 
any way or shape. The merchants in that section all brought in some other 
city if possible. They seemed determined that not one cent of their money 
should ever reach Evansville. No one knows why this should be the case, 
but it was probably a case of envy. After the country north of here be- 
came cut up by a network of railroads and dummy lines, they began to 
throw their trade here, but with all due respect to them, it was only because 


they thought that they could save the freight and not from any great desire 
to help this city along. It is hard to tell just what factor produced the 
change in the wholesale business in Evansville. Possibly the inability of the 
merchants to compete with the enormous capital of the concerns in Chicago, 
Cincinnati, Louisville and St. Louis, for it must be remembered that as 
fast as new lines of railroads were opened up and even ran to the doors 
of Evansville the drummers from these larger cities came in swarms and 
even sold their goods right in our own city. The gala day of wholesaling 
in Evansville was when we had packet lines up every stream near here. 
Green river, Cumberland river and the Tennessee river brought great 
quantities of goods. But just how much of this trade has been profit is 
something I cannot explain, for the reason given above. I only predict 
that the Evansville of the future will not be a great wholesaling Evansville, 
but a manufacturing Evansville. But by this I do not mean that the whole- 
sale trade will ever grow less than it is at present. In fact, as little places 
spring up around us on the different traction lines, the trade will increase 
and the natural increase in population in the Pocket of the State of Indiana 
will also aid. Much has been said about the drummer as he was called in 
the old days, or the commercial traveler, as he insists on being called at 
present. But one thing certain, the commercial traveler knows nothing at 
all of the hardships and trials of the early drummer. In this connection 
I am again compelled to speak personally. For nine long years my home 
was in the saddle, except for a few months during the summer. I served 
in the saddle longer and more continuously than any cavalry man in the late 
war. At that time there were two railroads in this part of the country, the 
E. & T. H., which came into Evansville, and the I. C, which ran into Cairo. 
All through southern Illinois and north Kentucky, where now a man 
can go in any direction by rail, not a railroad had been even suggested. I 
have gotten into the saddle at the stable here in Evansville, started out to 
make a thirty or sixty day trip without ever seeing anything except wagons 
and horse-back riders. The grocery drummer carried his samples as fol- 
lows : In a pair of saddlebags one side was full with several packages of 
cofifee, sugar, syrup, tobacco, sometimes cigars, smoking tobacco, rice and 
what were known as the greatest staples in the grocery trade. In the other 
side he carried a few white collars, a change of underwear, socks and a few 
handkerchiefs. At the back of his saddle was a complete suit of rainproof 
clothes. Leggings, coat with no outside pockets (for they would catch the 
rain), and a ntbber cap, to go over the back of the neck, giving the rider 
only a small V shaped place from which to note where he was going. He 
was supopsed to lay out his trip ahead, figuring just how long it would take 
him to ride from one town to another, how long it would take him to 
transact his business in each town and this list was left at the store, though 
there were no telegraph facilities or mail facilities enough to do any good. 
But the firm wanted to know where he was and more especially to check 
him up and see how much time he wasted. My house did not allow me to 


stop for any kind of weather. I was supposed to make my trip every day, 
rain, shine or snow, and I have gone to out-of-the-way places like Harris- 
burg, Illinois, from the bottoms, with my horse breaking the ice at every 
step and crossing the bridges where I could not see them at all, but only 
got over through knowing their exact location. At one time while in a 
sulky which I used in summer, I was overtaken by a flood in what are 
known as Skillet Fork bottoms and had to swim the horse and sulky across 
the deep slough, trusting to luck that the horse would stop, while I crossed 
myself on a fallen tree some distance beyond. At another time I was caught 
by the freezing of Little and Big Wabash rivers and left my horse at New 
Haven, Illinois, crossed both rivers on very thin ice and walked into Mount 
Vernon, Indiana, and came up on the Mount Vernon stage. Thus I had 
to hustle to get home. At that time there were no express offices. The 
country was full of soldiers' pay checks and these passed current every- 
where. These could be sent with almost perfect safety by mail, but bills 
and the gold and silver had to be carried by the drummers. In my case I 
used a very heavy buckskin belt and at one time had in as much as $iO,ooo 
on my person, part of it being in gold. I could only say that when I got 
home it was very easy to see where the belt went around my body. It had 
almost worn through. But the house did not accept any excuses from 
drummers in those days. We got good salaries but we earned them and 
we got probably profits one hundred percent greater than they are today. 
In these days all traveling men are honest. In those days, I am sorry to 
say, that there were some black sheep. The allurement of the poker table 
was too much for the morals of a great many and many looked on the wine 
when it was red and people thought no less of a drummer when he played 
poker and took an extra drink. This is an actual fact, and I am not exag- 
gerating. In fact, any of the old merchants who are still living and will 
tell the truth about the wholesale days of Evansville, will tell you that 
when a country merchant came here to buy goods, there was always some 
drummer who traveled in his section whose duty it was to take him out 
and give him a good time. Sometimes a firm would send out a traveling 
man and suddenly all letters from him would cease and, owing to the un- 
settled conditions of the country, it would be very hard to locate him. In 
such a case it was necessary for the house to send out another man to fol- 
low him up right over his route, check up his collections, find how much 
he was indebted to the house and then find him. I remember being sent on 
one of these chases. In those days when we had a hard debt we took any- 
thing rather than go to law and get nothing, and my firm became the pos- 
sessor of a little fox-eared mule about fifty years old for a bad debt. We 
lost track of a drummer who disappeared on the Tennessee river route. I 
took this mule, shaved his mane and tail, got on a Tennessee river boat, got 
off at Satillo, traded off the mule for a horse, and went to East Port, Mis- 
sissippi, sold the horse and saddle, got a man to drive me to luka and there 
I found the relatives of the missing man. By this time I knew exactly how 


much he was indebted to the firm, and also found that he had been drink- 
ing and, thoroughly disgusted with himself and the world in general, had 
gone to Texas. His old father and brothers were as nice men as I ever 
met. They at once made the claim good and I took the next boat and 
came home. 

These are merely little drummer experiences to which all have their 
bearing on the wholesale trade of which I have been speaking. 


Who dosn't love to see a beautiful horse ? Even in these days when the 
automobile seems fair to be the vehicle of the future, the horse is still 
loved by those who owned him, drove him and knew all his good qualities 
before the automobile was invented. But this work is the history of the 
past and not supposed to be a prediction as to the future of the horse. But 
as he has existed in Evansville and at the old county fairs, he certainly de- 
serves a place. It is unfortunate that at the present day it has been fully 
demonstrated that neither Evansville nor Vanderburg county will support 
a first-class fair. The history of the tri-state fair company which has so 
bravely tried to surmount so many difficulties, is conclusive proof of this 
fact. In the early days Henderson had its fairs even before Evansville, 
and the writer remembers when in the riding ring, which was a great 
feature in those days, when so many rode horse-back, Mr. Jacob Hunnel, 
who long ago passed away, rode a magnificent black horse belonging to 
Mr. Smith Gavitt at the Henderson fair and carried away a lovely silver 
cup from some of the best riders in the world. It is a fact that the Hen- 
derson fair company have met perhaps with greater success than any fair 
company ever attempted in Evansville. The same may be said of the New 
Harmony fair which for years has been a fixture. Even in the old days 
when the fairs at Evansville were yearly experiments, so to speak, New 
Harmony always had her fairs and the young people of Evansville always 
looked forward to the New Harmony fair dances with a great deal of ex- 
citement. And in fact at these same dances, almost half of the dancers 
were from the city of Evansville. The New Harmony fair has kept up 
to this day and seems to be a fixture. 

Reverting to horses, what is now known as Main street was formerly 
the Plank road. That is, it was made of heavy planks securely fastened 
and braced and it offered a good chance for speeding horses to show what 
they could be. At that time John Smith Gavitt owned the best horses in 
Evansville. He was sheriff of the county and possibly ought to have been 
arrested for fast riding as there was little driving in those days, for I have 
often seen him start his fast horse at First and Main and go up the street 
as hard as the horse could, go. 

The first race track ever known here was to the left of Main street, be- 
yond 5th, This was especially for running horses and was only a little 


over 200 yards in length. The first track on which there was ever any- 
driving was around the corn field which was in the very center of what 
is now the Heidlebach and Elsas enlargement. This track was made and 
kept up by those interested in horse flesh, and as late as the day when 
Captain Dexter came here with the steamer Quick Step and brought a bob- 
tailed pony, it was used by every one who had a good horse. John Strat- 
ton, an old English jokey owned several horses and drove for Captain 
Billy Brown, who was well-known in the old days for his love of horses. 

The first fair, and by this I mean the fair in which the women of 
Evansville had a chance to show their handiwork, was given in the old 
American house, which was located on 4th street between Locust and 
Walnut. Here they brought their preserves and jellys, their home-made 
quilts, their cakes and the good old pies our mothers made and also crude 
specimens of fancy work, painting, and shell and bead work and the rivalry 
was very keen. Here also the farmers of the county showed their enor- 
mous pumpkins and great ears of corn, together with sweet and Irish po- 
tatoes and all manner of vegetables. There was no poultry show connected 
with it, for in those days there was nothing any better than the good 
dominick hen. There were no pigeons either as a pigeon worth more 
than 15 to 25c would have been called a rarity. Back of this market house 
where the Single Center Spring Company have their enormous building 
was quite a fruit tree grove and in it the farmers hitched their wagons. 
The first fair was a grand success. Aside from the natural heart-burnings 
of the ladies who each thought that her specimen was the best, it was de- 
cided by those interested that the next year a fair on larger scales be at- 
tempted. So a tract was laid oflf for a county fair and a small race meet- 
ing on the Stringtown road just this side of Pigeon creek, and for sev- 
eral years the fairs were given there and each one was self-supporting. 
The track was only ^ of a mile in circumference, so as each horse had 
to go around four times to make his mile, and the track records were 
nothing like those of the present day. Philip Hornbrook, a most respected 
citizen and one whose descendants are still living here, was the president 
and A. D. Chute was the secretary. The trouble with this place was that 
to attend the fair, one had to go either by foot or in a vehicle so the com- 
pany decided to build a new ground directly on the track of the E. & T. H. 
road. They therefore purchased a grove on the right side of the track 
going up, but cut many of the trees and made a figure eight track. They 
also put up cheap buildings in which to show the various exhibits. It 
was soon found that the figure eight track, while being just the thing for 
showing stock, could not well be used for racing horses, so more ground 
was obtained and a half-mile track made. It was decided to open the new 
track in a blaze of glory, so they got Goldsmith Maid, the greatest race 
mare of her day and Judge Fullerton, the next best trotter of that time, 
to go against each other. This race meeting was extensively advertised and 
that day lived long in the annals of Evansville. There were people here 

\\E\\ 111-- l;l\ KliSIDK A\ KM K. K\ ANS\ ILLE 


from all over the southern part of the state and from Illinois and Ken- 
tucky. Many came in their covered wagons and camped outside of the 
grounds and cooked their own meals, just to see this race. The record 
was much lower than present records, of course, but our people had a 
chance to see the two best horses in the United States at that day. Soon 
after there were a number of good horses owned in Evansville and sur- 
rounding towns and they competed on this track. There was Logan, owned 
by Kentucky people, Shakspere owned by Tom Denny of Boonville, 
Uncle Sam owned by Pete Gordner of Boonville and Tom Roach, owned 
by Tom Britton and Russell Bement. Also a gray mare, Katie Fish, owned 
by Geo. H. Fish, Lady Alice, owned by Van Riper. This mare after- 
wards passed into the possession of William Forth, who at that time was 
well off, owning a half interest in a splendid stable and also a half interest 
in the great horse, Tom Adams. Another great horse was bred by Mr. 
William Akin, who is still a good judge of horse flesh and sold by him 
at a good long price. About this time Mr. John Henry Morgan owned 
some high class thorough-bred runners and he had many contests with 
our Kentucky friends from Henderson and Owensboro. Mr. Morgan has 
also the credit of introducing what were known as the Morgan Blacks, 
medium sized well-muscled horses which he obtained somewhere in the 
east. The old stallion which was the head of his string, lived for a great 
many years and I am sorry to say passed his last days in a milk wagon. 
He still retained all the fire and high head action of his youth and I be- 
lieve that Mr. Morgan, seeing him one day and realizing to what he had 
fallen, not having known that he was to be driven, bought him back and 
had him humanely killed. 

Isaac Keen had a beautiful bay mare that he bought in Baltimore which 
won many prizes here. Tom Britton afterwards owned Red Hoosier and 
Mr. H. D. Allis, a beautiful black mare. Smith Gavitt, who was one of 
the greatest lovers of horses ever known here and a most intrepid rider, 
for he feared no living horse, lost his life in the Union army and with him 
died a noble horseman. After the days of Red Hoosier, Shakspere and 
Lady Alice, I fear the company lost heart, for several years it did not at- 
tempt to get up any more fairs. William Forth, however, turned out a 
great pacer. Rowdy Boy and the gray mare, Belle Lee, one of the most 
beautiful specimens of horse flesh ever seen anywhere. About this time 
the Diamond Club composed of young men, most of whom are now old 
merchants and professional men, owned several good horses and drove 
four-in-hands and tandem teams. Years afterwards the desire to get up a 
fair that would do credit to the growing city of Evansville again became 
prevalent and out of this idea grew the tri-state fair association. It started 
off most auspiciously. There were good entries for the track, stalls for 
live stock were well filled, and also the stalls for the merchants to display 
their stocks, and the stock in the company was easily worth par or more, 


for it seemed that this was to become one of the great fixtures of 

The track was admitted by all who saw it, to be one of the best ever 
made in the United States. In fact many old horsemen claimed that it 
was the fastest track in America. This grew out of the fact that most 
eastern tracks were of sand or gravel, while this track was made out of 
hard clay which was gotten from the pond in the center of the fair ground 
and which was rolled until it became very hard and was still springy enough 
for good speed. The first few fairs were attended by great numbers of 
people, but by degrees the interest seemed to wane, until holders of stock 
began to place less and less value upon it. The buildings went to decay 
and nothing was kept up except the enormous grand stand to which an 
addition had been made during the palmy days of the administration. It 
is to be regretted that this great institution should have been allowed to 
go down but a similar fate has met most of the fair grounds all over the 
country. At this writing the ground is said to be for sale and so rapidly 
has the city built up in the direction of the fair grounds, that it is safe 
to assume that none of those who have kept their stock will lose any- 
thing. If, as projected, a magnificent building will be put up on the lower 
market space, it is safe to assume that the horse show, always a fascinat- 
ing event, will take the place of the old fair. So much pressure is being 
brought to bear to effect the building of this auditorium, as it will prob- 
ably be called, that there seems to be little doubt but that it will soon be 

Although the automobile seems to be the vehicle of the future, it may 
be for years so high in price as to be beyond the pocket book of the men 
who can afford to keep a good horse and as our brethren across the river 
retain their love for horses, it is safe to say that Evansville, for some time, 
will contain many fine horses. It is many a long year since Mother Shipton 
prophesied "carriages without horses shall go" and it will probably be 
many years before the horse will go. 

In 1830 the word Hoosiers became known as meaning Indiana people. 
In 1883 the New Year's address, published by the Indianapolis Journal, 
contained a poem written by John Findley of Richmond, Indiana. The 
poem was entitled "The Hoosier's Nest." The word Hoosier evidently 
was intended to convey the meaning of uncouth, crude and uncultivated 
people who lived in Indiana and the "smart set" who lived in the other 
parts of the United States wanted to construe the word to express odium 
of our people. When you take into consideration the advanced steps taken 
by the people of Indiana in educational matters, it only reflects on the 
ignorance of the people who tried to cast odium. Every Indianian today 
accepts the word "Hoosier" and feels proud of it. When a man from 
Indiana would go to California and was asked where he was from, he 
would reply, "I am a hoosier from Posey county, Hooppole township." 


Much of this slang was started by the Pittsburg coal boatmen. Hooppole 
township came to be used in this way: 

In the early boating days of this country, Mt. Vernon was a head 
center for the gathering of flatboat crews. At one time a large coat fleet 
had landed at that point from Pittsburg and a number of boatmen had 
gone up into the town and filled up on fighting whisky. They soon raised 
a disturbance and started in to clean out the town. At that time there were 
some large cooper shops along the river edge which employed some 25 or 
30 coopers. As the boatmen and citizens were having a battle, these coop- 
ers, with a stout hooppole each went to the aid of the citizens and whipped 
these boatmen with the hooppoles and they remembered this for many a 
long day afterwards. Hence the name Hooppole township, Posey county. 






Now that the war has been over so long that nearly everyone has for- 
gotten it except the few unforgiving ones who imagine that true bravery 
consists in hitting a man after he is down, and during the period of his 
actual lifetime, a little information regarding Indiana in the early day will 
come as a sort of a surprise. It will be news to many who imagine that 
Indiana, which lay north of Mason's and Dixon's line, which was supposed 
to divide the poor down-trodden slave of the south from the paradise of 
the north, was virtually at one time, a slave state. By that is meant that 
slaves could be owned here in Indiana and nobody attach any particular 
importance to them. Just across the river slavery existed of course, and it 
was no unusual thing to see slaves come across, transact business here and 
go back to Kentucky, perfectly contented, for at that time there had never 
been any agitation nor had the negro been educated by fool politicians to 
believe that his real place was in the halls of congress or in the presiden- 
tial chair or at the head of some large manufacturing industry in the north. 
In fact, they were well contented with their lot. The writer in his youth 
mixed with many of them over in Kentucky. They were a careless happy 
race, with plenty to eat, good houses, and with no longing for any lot other 
than the one they then held. For many years before Gen. Clark captured 
what was known as the Northwest territory of which Indiana was a part, 
the French inhabitants of \"incennes and stations as far north as Detroit 
held slaves and dealt in them. Many of these traders made annual trips to 
New Orleans and brought back male and female slaves. At the time Vin- 
cennes was captured in 1779 there were at least 200 slaves there. When 
William Henry Harrison was made governor there were supposed to be 
some 500 in the territory, and is it not strange that William Henry Harri- 
son, the pioneer fatlier of the other Harrisons that are known throughout 
this country as republicans of the purest type, was from Virginia and fa- 
vored slavery? The first judges appointed were owners of slaves. Judge 
Vanderburg was a slave owner at the time he was probate judge of Knox 



It will be remembered that in another place this book speaks of slaves 
having been brought here from Tennessee by James Oakley, who lived on 
Riverside Avenue, but it is a matter of record that in his will he made no 
mention of them as being articles of property, having given them their 
freedom when he came across the river. But they stayed with him until 
the household was broken up. In 1806 an important case came up regard- 
ing the emancipation of a negro and his wife who had been brought from 
Kentucky and held without the formalities of the indenture laws of which 
I will speak later on. The judges heard the case and decided that the men 
who claimed them could hold them in this state provided they could prove 
that they were slaves. Two negroes who built a cabin on the Wabash river 
were kidnaped by a Frenchman and carried to New Orleans and sold into 
slavery. It is probable that they were originally slaves as at that time there 
were very few free negroes. A convention was called at Vincennes late in 
1802 to decide on repealing article six of the ordinance of 1787 which pro- 
hibited the holding of slaves in all the territory which was then called the 
Northwest territory. The people agreed that this ordinance should be sus- 
pended. Mr. Randolph of the great Randolph family of Virginia, who was 
chairman of the committee, took a broad view of matters and one which 
an average southerner would not be expected to take. He said in effect, 
"The rapidly increasing population of this section of country is sufficient 
evidence to your committee that the labor of slaves is not necessary to evoke 
the growth of the south. Slave labor is the dearest that can be employed," 
and by this he meant what has often been a mooted question ; that is 
whether or not it was not cheaper to hire white labor at an honest recom- 
pense than to own slaves, to be compelled to feed them, house them, clothe 
them and take care of them in sickness and in health. He stated that slave 
labor was only advantageous in the southern part of the United States. As 
against the importation of slave labor into Indiana, "At no distant day the 
state of Indiana will find ample remuneration for this temporary privation 
of labor." Meetings were held all over the state in 1802 and a petition was 
sent to congress to repeal the sixth article of the ordinance of 1787. About 
this time a great deal of juggling was done, but the general opinion of the 
citizens of southern Indiana was to the effect that they did not wish In- 
diana to become a slave state in any such term. The proportion of the 
anti-slavery people was so much greater than the slavery element that the 
latter saw that something must be done in order that they might still con- 
tinue to get the work out of their slaves. So a most obnoxious indenture 
law was passed in 1807. This gave the people of the Indiana territory a right 
to bring in negroes or mulattoes over the age of 15 and who owed service 
as slaves in any of the states or territories of the United States, or for 
any citizens of the states or territories of the United States who had pur- 
chased the same, to bring them into Indiana. But they must within 30 days 
go before the clerk' of the Court of Common Pleas of any county and in 
the presence of said clerk, agree with the slaves upon a certain term of 


years during which the said slave should serve his or her owner or pos- 
sessor. This was entered in a book or record and was a great deal like 
bonding. It went on to say that if any negro or mullatto refused to serve, 
he or she could be removed within 60 days to any place which the former 
desired. Again, if a person neglected to take advantage of this section 
and get the article of indenture on the record, they forfeited all claim and 
right to the service of the negro or mulatto. Each owner was required 
to register the name of each negro or mulatto and if they wished to remove 
the same from one county to another they were compelled to register the 
name of each on the books of record in the county to which they removed 
them. If they failed to do this they were fined $50. The duty of the 
clerk of the Court of Common Pleas was to demand and receive the bond 
of the African, the security being $500, payable to the governor or his 
successor in office, the condition being that after the term of service men- 
tioned in the indenture had expired the slave could not become a charge 
on the county. Another section was that no person could take or carry 
out of this territory or aid in doing the same any person or persons owing 
or having owed service for labor. The owner of such person or persons 
previously obtained before any judge of the Court of Common Pleas of 
the county, should pay when convicted, $1000, 1-3 to the county and 2-3 
to be used by the person taken or carried away. For each register of the 
above kind, the clerk received 75c. 

The children born in this territory to parents of color who owed service 
or labor by indenture were compelled to serve the master or mistress of 
such parents, the male until the age of thirty and the female until the age 
of twenty-eight. The first laws for the indenture of slaves, it will be seen, 
were made by the Board of Control of Indiana, the governor and free 
federal judges in 1803. They provided that "Persons coming into the ter- 
ritory under contract to serve a stated period at any kind of labor, shall 
serve that term." This contract could be assigned by getting consent of 
the slaves. In 1805 another attempt was made to establish slavery in In- 
diana and an act for the importation of negroes and mulattoes was passed. 
It provided that any slaveholder in the United States could bring in slaves 
over fifteen years old, and within thirty days after coming enter into an 
agreement with such slaves before the clerk of the Court of Common 
Pleas as to the number of years such slaves would serve their master. If 
the slaves should refuse to agree, the master had sixty days in which to 
send them to a slave state. The laws of 1807 were the same as those of 
1805, but these laws had a valid standing as they were in direct opposi- 
tion to the laws passed by the Congress of the United States for the gov- 
ernment of the Northwest Territory. But notwithstanding this, these in- 
denture negroes were compelled to serve for the time specified and in many 
cases were taken out of this state and into a slave state where they were 
sold into slavery for life. 


A writer says: "Unfortunately all the clear-cut laws prohibiting slavery 
in Indiana did not have much force with those entrusted with the admin- 
istration of the laws. There was no secret about holding slaves." But in 
1820 it seems that very few had been brought in, for the entire census of 
the state of Indiana showed only one hundred and ninety slaves. In Van- 
derburg County there were only ten and there were twenty-four counties 
in the state in which no slavery existed. It is sad to state that many ne- 
groes who were emancipated by their owners were kidnapped and sold 
into slavery in the South. An unfortunate fact was that the negro of that 
day could neither read nor write and often he was brought into the North 
and told that after residing here he would then have to sign a paper which 
was an emancipation paper and he would be a free negro forever. But he 
didn't realize that the paper he was signing made him about as much of a 
slave as before it was signed. Here is specimen of how it was done. 

The papers would read something like this : 

"On the first day of October, 1813, I, John Brown, have this day set 
free my slave, Thomas Jones, and I hereby make and acknowledge the 
emancipation paper for his complete freedom. The said Thomas Jones, 
for the privilege of being known as a free man has agreed to indenture 
his services to me for a period of thirty years from this date. 

"John Brown." 

"I, Thomas Jones, do hereby accept the emancipation papers for which 
I sincerely thank my former master and do cheerfully agree to indenture 
myself to the said John Brown as per the above agreement. 

"Thomas Jones." 
"X — My own mark." 

This gave the party of the first part absolute control of the negro and 
if his working ability failed to come up to what he expected, it was no un- 
usual thing to hear of his being suddenly kidnapped and sold into slavery 
somewhere down South. 

Here is another taken from the records on September 26, 1813: 

"I, Noah Freedman, of Indiana, on this date, do hereby emancipate my 
slave, Mary Ann, to enjoy all the rights of freedom that a negro and an 
uneducated woman can. It affords me great satisfaction to testify that 
she has been a most faithful and obedient servant. This paper and freedom 
to be in force and effect after the 26th day of September, 1830. Until 
that time she has indentured her services to me and my family. 

"Noah Freedman." 

"I, Mary Ann, the former servant of the master, agree to accept my 
emancipation papers and do agree to faithfully work for my mistress until 
the 30th day of September, 1833. 

"Mary Ann." 
"X — My mark. 
"Witness — Jason Brown." 


But here was the worst hypocrite of all and this is also taken from the 
records : 

"This is to certify that I, James Hartwell, of my own free will and 
accord, do this day emancipate and give freedom to a negro slave named 
Charles Hope, brought by me from North Carolina. In making these pa- 
pers I want to bear testimony to the painstaking and careful way he has 
done his work and that he is a quiet and most obedient servant and is 
always very easily managed. For these good qualities it affords me great 
pleasure to be able to give him his rightly earned freedom. For some nec- 
essary expenses that have to be incurred before he can leave the home he 
has so long lived at and for the love he has for me and my family, he hereby 
agrees to indenture his services to me for twenty-nine years from the i8th 
of October, 1809, which is the date of this agreement. 

"James Hartwell." 

"I, Charles Hope, do hereby acknowledge my thanks to my master for 
the kindness he has shown me in setting me free and I cheerfully accept the 
conditions in my freedom papers and agree to serve the time specified or 
until death. "Charles Hope." 

"X — His mark." 

Following the records, it shows that this hypocrite who at least might 
have saved himself the trouble of writing a lot of rot which in reality meant 
nothing but a splendid certificate in case he wanted to sell him, actually 
did sell him to a neighbor on the i8th day of the next November, for four 
head of horses, ten head of cattle, one hundred acres of land and a prom- 
issory note of $300. One can easily imagine that this negro must have 
been a remarkably good and able man. The next year this negro went with 
his master down the Wabash river on a pretended trip to Illinois but was 
carried further south and sold into slavery for life. Mention has been 
made elsewhere of the attachment of some of the slaves for their former 
masters and mistresses. This was exemplified many times after the slaves 
were given their freedom. The old house servants, who had grown up to 
know their masters and mistresses, loved them and refused to leave them. 
It was the field hands and the negro of the lower order who threw dovra 
everything, even leaving their implements in the fields and the stock unfed 
and gathered up their scanty stores and fled to the North. 

In 1854 Col. J. B. Cockrain was visiting in an old settlement in southern 
Indiana. It became known to one of the young ladies that he was collect- 
ing data for a book about the state, the subject of slavery coming up. She 
informed him that the family had always kept the emancipation and inden- 
ture papers of old Tom, who was their slave, and said that she thought it 
would be interesting. She said that he might copy the papers provided he 
would not use their names, and they are as follows: 


"May 26, 1^15. 
"To All Whom It May Concern : 

"This is to certify that this day I have set free and by these presents do 
give emancipation papers to my faithful servant, Thomas Agneu, and from 
this date he shall be known as a free man. Given under my hand and seal. 

"(Thomas Trueman.) 
"Witness — (Joseph Forth.)" 

"This is to certify that I have this day received my emancipation papers 
from my former master but as I do not know any other home but the one 
I have always loved and lived at, I do hereby indenture myself to him, 
Thomas Trueman, for thirty years from this date, he agreeing to feed and 
clothe me during that time. 

"Thomas Agneu." 
"X — His mark." 

The story told by the young lady was as follows: 

"Just before the state of Indiana was admitted into the Union, my 
father moved here from a slave state and brought with him Thomas, who 
was bom on the estate. He had no thought that there would ever be any 
trouble about him, as Tom was as much of a fixture as anything else per- 
taining to the house, but a friend one day told him that parties were pre- 
paring to bring habeas corpus and emancipate him. The only thing my 
father could do was to emancipate him and have him indenture his time 
after he was a free man. This was done, as shown above, and Tom kept 
faithfully at work. This was twenty years before I was born. The good, 
faithful old slave worked with my father nearly twenty-seven years after 
the indenture was made, when my father died. Tom kept on working with 
my brother the same as before. On settling up the estate, we found that 
my father was more in debt than we had supposed and that there would be 
little left. A cousin of my father, who still lived in a slave state, held a 
mortgage on our farm. He was a regular Shylock and demanded the last 
cent, which would take everything, farm and all, at a forced sale. He, 
however, told my mother that if Tom would go home with him and work 
for him as long as he lived he would release the mortgage. This my 
mother would not consent to, as Tom had less than two years of his term 
to put in, and he was so faithful that she would not listen to any idea of 
a separation. Tom learned of the condition of things, as we never had 
any secrets from him, and he had actually agreed to go and give up his 
life's service for the family he loved so well. He would not consent to 
anything but that he must go and save the farm and family from want. 
The agreement was made, the mortgage was cancelled and Tom went to 
the home of his new master, now a slave in fact. Shortly after this my 
mother's uncle died and. left her several thousand dollars. This made us 
independent and my. mother's first thoughts were of Tom. She went South 
to hunt for him and found him working faithfully. She went to his mas- 


ter, told him that she wanted to take Tom back with her and that she was 
prepared to pay him in full for his mortgage. This he refused, saying that 
Tom was priceless and that no money would buy him. She tried in every 
way to have him agree to let Tom go with her but he would not give in. 
Tom cried and told my mother not to mind, that he had only a short time 
to live, and was already feeling that old age was creeping on and that he 
would soon be in another country where no trouble could come. My mother 
was a woman full of nerve and she determined to get Tom if it could pos- 
sibly be done. She was advised to go to Evansville and see a lawyer by 
the name of Conrad Baker." — This was our beloved Conrad Baker who 
served afterwards as governor of Indiana and who lived in the house now 
occupied by Mrs. Maggie Gray. — "My mother explained to him the whole 
situation and showed him where the proper evidence could be found. She 
also gave him the emancipation and indenture papers. Mr. Baker told her 
that there was no doubt about Tom being legally a free man and if he 
could only be gotten into a free state there would be no legal trouble. But 
it was found that this could not be done, so proceedings were brought in 
the county where Tom was held, to liberate him. The proper affidavits were 
made and the court decided that as he had indentured himself for thirty 
years and had worked over that time, he was now free. He came back to 
Indiana with my mother and lived with our family during the rest of his 
life, and when he died we gave him a royal funeral, feeling that we had lost 
our best friend and one of nature's noblemen." 

After Col. Baker had been elected governor he wrote to Col. Cockrain 
and stated that in his whole law practice he had never handled a case 
which gave him as much satisfaction as the liberation of old Tom. 

Such negroes as old Tom were a credit to the race. He loved the family 
that raised him. Many of us have known just such negroes and have loved 
them, as I did my old black mammy Eliza. My mother gave all her slaves 
their freedom, but to them it was no boon. In an old box is a poor little 
ring that dear mammy Eliza bought with her little savings and put on my 
baby fingers. I have had many a gift but none that came more from a true 
loving heart than this. 

In the old days, stealing a horse was considered an awful crime and as 
in the countries in the far west now, a horse thief was in luck if he 
escaped hanging to the nearest tree when he was found with the stolen 
goods on him. Yet, for some reason, it was not considered very much of 
a crime to steal a slave and take him back south, and for several years prior 
to 1850 the country was full of fellows from the south devoid of all hon- 
esty who considered it a smart trick to capture a slave on any kind of a 
pretext and sell him into slavery. They were aided a great deal by the 
law which was passed in 1850 which gave slaveholders or those aiding 
them, the power to organize a posse at any point in the United States to 
aid them in this work, and made it the duty of the police and peace officers 
of the United States to aid them at all times in running down alleged 


slaves and this also imposed heavy fines and penalties on any one who 
would refuse to assist. This was repugnant to a great many persons as 
Indiana never was intended to be a slave state and the greater number of 
people who had helped to make this town up to that time, were Eastern, 
people who were imbued with abolitionistic ideas. There was at that time 
an anti-slavery league in the east and very many wise and shrewd eastern 
men were in the organization. They had a detective system and a spy 
system to help those who were assisting runaway slaves to reach Canada. 
To be honest, they really had no more right to do this under the law than 
the southern men had to take back slaves under the law, but I give this 
to show what the general feeling was at that time. For the last few years 
before the Civil war, a runaway slave was easily captured in Indiana. 
There was a perfect system of spies who were firmly against slavery yet 
who never failed to proclaim themselves as being very deeply in favor of 
the slave system and through this they they were enabled to get into the 
good graces of all the southern slave-drivers who came into this region. 
These latter were often seen passing through the country and of course 
they were not really entitled to the name of southerners. They may have 
been bom south, but they were of the Simon Legree type, a creature who 
has been shown up so often in Uncle Tom's Cabin. It will be remembered 
that Simon Legree was a down-east Yankee of the lowest type and so were 
these men who pretended to be southern gentlemen, but they had absolutely 
no right whatever to the name. I class them in the same category with the 
carpet baggers who were sent south by northern politicians just after the 
war or as plain horse thieves. They were all of the same type and it would 
have been a blessing to the country if they could have all been hung to- 
gether. These slave hunters had their hand bills at every crossing. Many 
of us remember the old cut of the negro with a bundle carried at the end 
of a stick on his back. I have seen hundreds of them, and underneath, a 
description of some alleged runaway and the amount of reward that would 
be paid for his recovery. These anti-slave spies were able to counteract 
nearly all the eflForts of the slave hunters. They would get information 
as to the negroes who were being sought after and at once put their friends 
on their guard and the negro would disappear. 

One instance will show how things sometimes worked. An old negro 
had three sons, 15, 12, 10 years of age respectively. She was keeping them 
near here until she could send them to Liberia. The boys were good work- 
ers and had been here about two years. The old man, their father, was a 
free man and had married a slave and bought her freedom. One evening 
just as work for the day was closing two men rode up to the front of the 
house of the farmer for whom the boys were working and said they wanted 
to see them. They told him they had a description of three colored boys 
who were born in South Carolina and were slaves and they had called 
on him to get his assistance in turning them over to their rightful owners. 
Of course these two men had been posted by some confederate in the neigh- 


borhood who had given a thorough description of the boys, as the descrip- 
tion they furnished, talHed exactly. The farmer went into the house for 
a moment and then came back on the porch with his big bear gun in his 
hands. The men at once commenced to tell him that they did not want 
any trouble. He said there would be no trouble at all, but he just wanted 
to show them what kind of a machine he kept around the house to protect 
the boys so that they could sleep well and be able to do their work the next 
day. Said he, "These three boys are asleep out there," pointing to a little 
room in the yard, "and I don't want them disturbed. You cannot have 
them, fugitive law or any other law and I want to say that I have fits of 
anger that come on me once in a while and I feel one coming on right now, 
and" cocking his gun, "the best you can do is to git out of range of this 
gun. I don't want to hut you, but I am not responsible when these fits come 
on." They didn't stop to parley but went out and got on their horses and 
started down the road. When about 75 yards away the old farmer let that 
bear gim go and for years afterwards he would go into spasms of laughter 
when he told of what a noise the old gim made and how those fellows lay 
down on their horses' necks and yelled as they went through the woods. 
The funny thing was that the next year the farmer ran for the legislature 
and the confederate of these two men who had posted them, was one of his 
bitterest enemies. Of course this was because he had been deprived of the 
boys and he went all through the country telling what a bloodthirsty man 
the old farmer was and said he could prove that he did not think anything 
more of the life of a man than he did of a bear. Finally he got so bold 
about it, that the old farmer one day met him in a crowd and told him that 
as he had been telling about half of the story he might just as well finish 
it up and he then and there made him tell the whole thing and the med- 
ling fellow was laughed out of the town. 

One negro was kidnaped at our little town of Princeton. He was a 
free man who had been given his freedom for saving his master's life in 
South Carolina. A maniac there had become desperate and had been kept 
in confinement in the best place they had but with a maniac's cunning he 
had escaped and was wandering over the country. Seeing this slave's 
owner at work in the field he crept up behind him and pinched his arms, 
threw him to the ground and was just starting to cut the man's throat when 
the negro ran up with a common garden hoe and felled him to the, ground, 
killing him instantly. His master said, "Rube, from this day on you are 
a free man and I will make out your free papers at once." The papers 
were made out giving a full history of the reason and this was all recorded 
on the record books of the county in South Carolina where he lived. To 
make it certain that no one would ever disturb Rube, he had the history of 
the case engraved on a gold plate and had it attached to a chain that went 
around his neck so that if he should be stopped at any time he had only 
to show this to escape being molested. By some means Rube was captured, 
taken south and sold and it was in 1832 that he was again seen by a Mr. 


Bayard who was getting cotton out of the river for a boat which he was 
running to New Orleans. At one landing where the planters were deliver- 
ing from the sheds, a negro who was rolling the bales aboard, as he came 
back, stopped at Mr. Bayard's side and whispered quickly, "Don't you know 
me? I am Rube, who hunted with you in Indiana. Don't let anyone know." 
Bayard knew him in a moment and his first thought was to help him. So 
he told him to roll a few bales behind the cabin stairs. Rube told him 
that his master was on the bank and it would not do for them to be seen 
talking together but whispered to him that there was a woodyard a few 
miles below and he would be there when the boat landed for wood late that 
night. Rube met them at the woodyard and was immediately taken into 
the hold where he was kept during the entire trip and during the return 
trip, until they reached one of the military posts on the Arkansas river 
where Mr. Bayard told the whole story to the commander who agreed to 
take Rube home and send him back to South Carolina, which he did. The 
story of his being stolen then leaked out. It seems that Rube started for 
Evansville and on the road met two men with a wagon. They invited him 
to take a seat and Rube, who was very fond of showing his medal, told 
them his whole historj'. They told him that if he would cook for them they 
would take him home as they were going to stay in Evansville a few days 
and then go over to Tennessee and in a few days would be just a few miles 
from his old home in South Carolina. The poor negro being ignorant of 
geography, believed them. They did stay in this city for a short time and 
treated him very kindly but as soon as they got into Tennessee they went 
right over to Memphis and sold him, claiming that he was their slave 
whom they had owned since childhood. There seemed to have been quite 
a number of these negro stealers who made their headquarters around 
Princeton, as there are several cases on record where they succeeded in 
getting in their dirty work. In one case two men went to the cabin of two 
negro men both free, who had lived near Princeton for two years, one of 
whom could read and write. It is not known exactly how they were cap- 
tured but the next heard of them they were rolling cotton on the levee at 
New Orleans. 

Dr. Adams of Petersburg, tells of a barber who came to Petersburg 
and opened a shop. One of these negro hunters soon got a perfect de- 
scription of him and suddenly a stranger appeared on the scene who pro- 
duced a hand bill that gave an absolutely perfect description of the barber 
and which also showed that a reward of $200 was offered for his cap- 
ture, it being claimed that he had run away from Tennessee three years be- 
fore. They actually arrested him and were ready to start south with him, 
when Dr. Adams brought some kind of legal proceedings to gain a little 
time. He then sent a runner to Vincennes and got Robert LaPlante of the 
old LaPlante family of that city who build the first hotel there and which 
will be remembered by many people. Mr. LaPlante swore that the negro 
was bom in a small house in his father's yard in Vincennes and that the 


mother and father had worked for his parents up to the time the barber 
was nearly grown. There was no use in the stranger trying to combat such 
testimony, and it is strange to say no offer was made to arrest him and he' 
was allowed to go free. 

One of the most villainous schemes ever worked was one in which a 
father of Honorable Frank B. Posey took quite a part in breaking up. He 
was assisted by a minister, Rev. Hopkins. There were several free negroes 
living not far from Rockport and they had been working on the Wabash 
and Erie canal. They were strong healthy fellows and just the kind who 
would bring a big price in the south. It is needless to go into particulars, 
but there were three men all well-armed who got hold of the negroes and 
got them into a wagon and started south with them. Dr. Posey and Rev. 
Hopkins trailed them up but found that they were too strong for them, so 
stopped to talk with them, and while they were talking with them Dr. 
Posey took one of the lynch pins out of the wagon and stuck it in his 
pocket. This was a very serious thing in those days as the only way that 
the thieves could get along was to use wooden pegs which kept breaking 
and wearing off. This made their progress very slow and Dr. Posey and 
Rev. Hopkins were enabled to get ahead of them with some friends whom 
they had induced to assist them. They stopped them before they got to 
the river and bringing their guns to bear, soon had at least one of them 
pretty badly frightened. He started to tell the truth and was reminded by 
one of the other thieves that he had better remember his oath. At this he 
suddenly became mute just as the Italian Black Handers do in these days 
and Posey saw that the only way to get the truth was to separate him 
from the others. This was soon done and when once by himself he told 
the whole story. It showed that a hotel keeper who lived in Washington, 
Indiana, had gotten up the whole scheme and had sent for these men to go 
and steal these negroes and was to reap quite a share of the benefit. 

The rescuing party was so strong that they took the thieves, tied them 
up and stripped them and then had the negroes give each of them 25 lashes 
apiece on their bare backs with hickory sticks and it is safe to say that the 
negroes came pretty nearly getting even right there. When the whipping 
was over they were untied and then gave 10 lashes each of the two men 
from Evansville who claimed that they had been merely .hired to take 
charge of the wagon but as it was positively known to them at the time, 
what was going on, it was thought this admonition might be a good thing. 

After the whipping was over, the rescuing party formed in line with 
their guns ready and pointed out the road leading to Evansville and told 
the party to "git" and it is needless to say that they "got." The rescuing 
party kept the express and team to pay them for the trouble to which they 
had been put and it is needless to say that no one ever came after them. 
The revolvers and rifle found were given to the negroes as it was decided 
that they had gone through enough torture to be entitled to them. 


The funny thing about it was that some time afterwards it was heard 
that the parties who had been whipped arrived home and told a wonderful 
tale about how they had met a band of horse thieves who not only whipped 
them but took their team away from them. 

This was about the best plan of rescue that was ever pulled off near 
here and Dr. Posey always said that its success was due to Rev. Hopkins 
whose keen mind had worked up the plot. 

Just one more story. 

In 1852 a large man riding a horse covered vdth lather rode into 
Princeton, Indiana. Tied to his saddle were a large whip and several pairs 
of handcuffs, while a brace of heavy revolvers was belted around his waist. 
He tied his horse to the rack at the public square and hurriedly posted up 
a notice of three runaway negroes, offering a reward of $500 for their cap- 
ture. After this he had his horse put away and inquired for the best tavern. 
He then asked if anybody in Princeton would be willing to help him in 
getting three of his slaves who had run away, and he soon found two windy 
gentlemen who boasted of how successful they had been in capturing run- 
away negroes. They made a deal with him and the reward was to be 
divided betwen them if they would get three more men so as to make a 
strong party who could defy any rescue. The three men needed were 
soon gotten and their raid was planned. 

It seems that they were after three negroes who were farming in Pa- 
toka bottoms. To reach them they would have to cross a certain little 
bridge and it was agreed that they would wait until a little before daylight 
so that none of the farmers would be up and then make the raid and hurry 
back with the negroes. 

But several good men of Princeton had no difficulty in finding out the 
plans. Some time before, they had become so incensed at these slave- 
hunting bullies, who came heavily armed, pretending to be very bad men, 
etc., that they determined to give the next visitor a lesson and they had 
eight heavy bombs made by Kratz and Heilman, who had a machine shop 
in this city. Each of these bombs contained three pounds of powder with 
a screw attachment into which a time fuse could be put. They figured very 
nicely and slipped along the bank and laid their bombs and then hid until 
the proper time to light them. 

Fortunately everything turned out just right, for the party had just 
gotten on to the bridge when they went off. These men told their friends 
afterwards in secret that such a Fourth of July celebration had never oc- 
curred in that country before. They said that each one of the bombs 
made a noise like a cannon and that long before the last one went off 
nothing could be heard except some horses going at full speed back to 
Princeton. The leader who posed as such a fire-eater was never seen and 
the men who helped him and who, up to that time, had been among the 
most obnoxious citizens of the little town, got such a lesson that they 


changed to fairly good men. At any rate, they were never known to take 
part again in running off any negroes. 

The strangest thing that ever happened in these perilous instances 
was where two men came from the South and obtained the services of a 
drunken kind of a fellow, and a hostler in a livery stable. The drunken 
fellow owned a large white bulldog, which he delighted in fighting and the 
hostler laid claim to a Newfoundland dog. By some means they had found 
while wandering through the woods a kind of nest at the foot of a large 
tree. Around it were pieces of bones and two pieces of corn bread, and 
they at once decided that runaway negroes had been hiding there at night 
and making the place their bed, coming out during the daytime to get such 
meals as they could until they could work their way further North. These 
two worthies kept the secret to themselves until a few days afterwards 
when they got in with two slave hunters. It seems that these slave hunters 
had heard of three negroes who were hiding in that section and took it 
for granted that they had found the very place to locate them. They de- 
cided to surround the bed that night and capture them and hurry them back 
to Evansville and across the river. At the proper time they surrounded 
the spot but heard no noise of any kind. The hostler had imbibed enough 
whisky to make him bold so he decided to rush in and stir out the negroes. 
But in going in he disturbed an enormous wild sow with a litter of pigs. 
His Newfoundland dog crept up and grabbed one of the pigs which imme- 
diately commenced to squeal, while the bull dog went for the sow, who 
added her squealings to the rest. At that time the country was full of wild 
hogs of whose ferocity I have spoken in another place. It seemed but a 
moment before the woods were full of them, coming from all directions. 
Several enormous boars attacked the dogs, ripping them open and killing 
them almost instantly. Another cut the legs of the hostler all to pieces 
while another went for the drunken fellow and tore his side until he was 
a cripple for life, while still another whirling around, attacked the horse of 
one of the slave hunters and tore his hind legs and threw off the rider 
which he at once attacked. In desperation the other slave hunter ran his 
horse alongside and his companion jumped on behind him and they escaped 
and while they were chasing the horse, the crippled man managed to get 
into a small tree and out of immediate danger. The horse had to be 
killed. It was such things as this incident that stopped the influx of the 
slave hunters into this country. 

In the early days of Evansville, Judge A. L. Robinson was well known 
as the greatest abolitionist here. There may have been others who felt as 
strongly as he did, but he was the most outspoken in his belief. It was 
always hinted that he knew a great deal about what was known as the 
Underground Railway. I might mention several others, but as these things 
are all past and gone and the negroes will never again be in slavery, I 
do not think it best to take up too much space with this matter. I have 
only given these incidents because there are today so many people here who 



have no idea that such a state of affairs ever existed in Evansville and its 
immediate vicinity. 

Having treated of slavery days and realizing that a large proportion 
of the population of Evansville is colored, it would be hardly right to leave 
the subject without some remarks on the condition of the negro in this 
city at the present day. 

In my youth there were about six negro families in Evansville, and as 
I remember them, they were hard-working honorable people and esteemed 
by everyone. Who does not remember the dear old Aunty who for so many 
years was a consistent member of one of our best churches and who could 
be seen every Sunday in her pew. Others might stay away for one excuse 
or another, but she — never. One of the first restaurants of Evansville was 
conducted by a negro and it was then the Lottie of Evansville. In another 
family were some fine musicians who were called on to furnish music at 
almost every social affair. It was after the war that the colored popula- 
tion of Evansville began to increase so fast. Negroes came in hordes from 
every part of the south. Their great idea was that their only hope of not 
being put back into slavery was to get into a free state and when we think 
of how uneducated they were and what little chance they had to know any- 
thing of the great affairs of life, who can blame them? I realize that in 
taking up the question of the colored man, I am handling a subject on which 
many of the greatest writers in this country refuse to say anything. It must 
be remembered that for years these colored people did not even have to do 
their own thinking. Their masters thought for them. They were simply 
expected to work and they had no thought for the morrow, because they 
always knew that their meals and a place to sleep were assured. To take 
the race bred under these conditions for years and throw them on its own 
resources was indeed a stupendous undertaking and a mantle of charity 
ought to be thrown over a great many of their faults and failings during 
the war and just after the war. But at the present day, and I intend to call 
things by their right names, there is no excuse for the ignorant, shiftless nig- 
ger, for how many years has elapsed since the war and how much has been 
done to educate these people? If many of them are still uncouth, un- 
educated and shiftless, it must be attributed to the fact that they have 
no desire whatever to help themselves. The best men in their race h^ve 
been for years trying to elevate them but where they stubbornly refuse 
to be elevated their sins should fall on their own heads. Some may say 
that they spring from a race which by heredity gives them instincts far dif- 
ferent from the instincts of the white man. Yet this rule could not be 
applied to them as a race for in our own race are bloodthirsty wretches 
who every day of their lives disgrace the name of white man. Then take 
it in lower Europe today and look at the scum sent from the lowest cess 
pools of vice and ignorance of the races of that country and we have the 
Blackhand and Camorra, so that after all, all races are much like. The 
trouble with the negroes in Evansville is, and by this I mean the great 


majority, that they do not reach out their hands and take the gifts that 
are offered them. Their preachers may preach to them, their best men may 
lecture to them, their teachers may try to instruct them and yet they are 
satisfied to hve happy-go-lucky existences or to become puffed up with 
what they know, and imagine that they are not only the equal to the white 
man but in some cases, are superior. And this fault I have seen in a great 
many of the younger generation who have received education. Education 
has not helped them but has spoiled them. It has made them feel that they 
were too good to work — but enough of this. 

Tihe chief position of the negro in Evansville today seems to be to act 
as a factor in politics. Of course a great majority of them belong to the 
republican party as is quite natural. There are some who vote with the 
democrats and the trouble is that the leaders of both parties look on them 
as mere pieces of barter and sale, the only trouble being that none of the 
leaders are willing to state that "once bought they stay bought." It is no 
doubt a fact that negroes at every election receive money from both sides 
and no one knows how they vote. But it is a crying shame that elections in 
Evansville cannot be carried on without them and by this I mean without 
their being bought. The man who says that these colored folks are not 
bought simply stultifies himself. Every man in Evansville who knows 
anything at all, knows that the man who makes this statement lies and 
knows he is lying when he makes the statement and also knows that the 
other fellow knows he is lying. This may be rather plain, but it is never- 
theless true. Only a few days ago a colored man whom I respect and 
esteem as I do a great many of their race whom I have known for years, 
and whose good qualities have always appealed to me, said about as follows : 
"I don't think that I will ever vote in Evansville again. An honest 
negro never gets any credit for being honest. If he goes and votes for any 
party, the assumption is that he has been bought. The only credit he ever 
gets is from his own conscience and I doubt if that pays him enough for 
the time and trouble it takes to go to the poles and be harrassed by endless 
questions every time he wants to cast his ballot. The trouble with my 
people," he continued, "is that they are like a lot of sheep. They can be 
huddled together and under the influence of some spellbinder they go and 
vote blindly for any man who happens to be on the party's slate. They 
never stop to think whether the right men are on the slate or not and in 
this respect they are exactly as they were in the slavery days. They follow 
the will of their masters and seem to have no brains of their own. As for 
me, I am disgusted with the situation and, as I said, I don't think I will ever 
cast another vote here no matter how long I stay here." 

For a time in Evansville the negroes were scattered all over the city. 
Unfortunately many of them were poor, even those who worked hard and 
faithfully from one year's end to another and they were not able to pay 
rent for decent cottages and therefore lived in all sorts of tumble-down 
structures. As these structures were condemned and tore down they were 


forced to move still further out. As things exist now, a greater popula- 
tion of the negro population resides in what is known as Baptist Town 
in the 7th ward, though at various places on the outer streets there are 
neat little homes well cared for that belong to negro men, where they live 
clean moral lives and have the respect of their neighbors. One of the 
greatest evils with which we are confronted at the present, is the horde of 
little negroes who are growing up. They seem to have reverted and are 
lazy, idle, expert thieves and natural born liars. I have seen hundreds and 
hundreds of cases where it seemed impossible for them to tell the truth 
about anything. They refuse to go to school, wear clothes that ought to 
put them back in the forests of Africa, prowl through alleys committing 
all sorts of evils and when they are caught, immediately proceed to shed 
tears and draw on their well-worn stock of ready lies. The average police- 
man does not believe one story one of these little fellows tells and in this 
he is right. Just how to combat this evil I do not know, but this city would 
be a great deal better off if quite a number of these youthful savages were 
set outside of its limits forever. They are not the children of respectful 
and self-respecting parents. They are the offspring of the worthless 

Of late the race question seems to have come up stronger than ever. 
In a speech made recently by one of the best posted men in the east he 
took the ground that the question would settle itself by the dying out of 
the negro just as has been the case with the Indians. All thinking men 
know that the hording of negroes in big cities means just what this man 
says. The negro's only hope is in agriculture. He can be a good farmer — 
though shiftless as a rule and he can never, with but few exceptions, be 
anything else. The case of J. J. Groves of Kansas, shows this plainly. 
Nearly every one who rides on the Union Pacific or Rock Island trains 
west of Kansas City has noticed a big brick house just north of the rail- 
road tracks about half a mile east of Edwardsville, Kan. The house sits 
back from the roadway and up on the side of the bluffs. There are no 
trees to hide it, and the house is visible for several miles before one reaches 
Edwardsville from the east. Coming from the west the bluffs hide the 
big home until the train is almost even with it. 

That house of twenty-two rooms cost $22,000 and it is owned by a 
negro, probably the richest in Kansas and one of the richest in the countrj^ 
He has made it all in Kansas. None of his neighbors know how wealthy 
J. J. Groves really is. Groves probably knows but does not tell. He owns 
523 acres of Kaw Valley land, every acre worth at least $150 and some of 
it worth nearly double that amount. Within a few days he has refused 
$30,000 for one 120 acre tract, not including any houses. This price was 
a valuation of $250 an acre for this tract, and Groves would not sell at 
that figure. The land pays good interest on a much higher valuation than 


J. J. Groves was born in slavery in Green county, Ky., in 1859. Of 
course he never realized the trials of the slaves, as his people had been re- 
leased from this when he was four years of age. But his former master 
was a good one and Groves stayed with him until he was twenty years old. 
Then he came to Kansas. This twenty-year old negro boy landed in Kan- 
sas City with just seventy-five cents in his pockets. He walked into what 
is now Armourdale. This part of Kansas City, Kan., was then farm lands. 
J. T. Williamson was a farmer there and Groves went to work for him. 

At the beginning of the second spring Groves and Williamson made a 
deal whereby Groves was to work for Williamson at forty cents a day, but 
he should have some time of his own. Williamson lent him a team, seed 
and let him rent ten acres of ground. Three acres were planted to sweet 
potatoes, three to watermelons and the rest to Irish potatoes. Groves was 
married that year. Both man and wife worked hard and in two years they 
had saved enough from their share of the crops of the ten acres to buy a 
team of mules and a ramshackle old wagon. Then they moved to west 
of Edwards ville and rented sixty acres of land. In three years' time Groves 
and his wife cleared $2,200 from that sixty acres of land, and then they 
made the first payment on eighty acres of Kaw Valley land, which they 
still own, it being a part of their 523 acre holdings in Wyandotte county. 
As they made a surplus they invested it in other Kaw Valley lands, and 
later they bought 1,600 acres of Grove county wheat land. The Groves' 
farms in Wyandotte county included 602 acres until a short time ago, when 
an eighty acre tract was sold. 

On the Groves estate in addition to the big brick house there are seven 
farm houses for hired help, one orchard of seven thousand trees, 220 acres 
of Irish potatoes, fifty acres of cabbage and other crops. All the farm- 
houses are large and comfortable. The big brick house is one of the finest 
farmhouses in the state. It is finished in solid oak, with oak doors with the 
panels inlaid with birch and ebony. The floors are all oak and maple. The 
walls are stenciled. The house is wired for electricity and piped for gas. 
and has hot and cold water in all the sleeping rooms. The plans were 
drawn by a Kansas City architect and the house embodies all the latest 
ideas for comfort and rich finish. Groves explained to the architect the 
size of the house he wanted and the finish. The architect drew plans that 
suited Groves and was told to go ahead. When the final cost came Groves 
paid the $22,000 cheerfully, as he knew he had a home that equalled, if it 
did not exceed, any other farmhouse in Kansas for size and splendor of 

In addition to this land holdings of 2,100 acres. Groves owns some 
property in Kansas City, stocks in industrial concerns and some public and 
private corporation bonds. Also he carries a large daily balance in several 
Kansas City banks. 

The above is the story of what J. J. Groves, born in slavery, has done 
in thirty years. Groves employs nearly all negroes on his farms and he is 


interested in getting members of his race back to the soil and away from 
the cities. 

"The negro does not get much encouragement in the cities," said Groves. 
"There are worthless negroes, and many white people judge our race by 
these. But there are lots of honest and industrious colored people, too, but 
the conditions in the cities are such that they are not encouraged, and 
these are judged by the bad negroes. The negroes ought to get out of the 
cities. The farm is the place for them. I keep urging my friends to get 
out of the towns and go to the farms, and more and more are doing it. 
The race never will progress much in the cities, but it will go forward in 
the country, where its members are away from the evil influences of city 
life and the glamour and show. 

"There is no race prejudice on the farm. A bushel of corn raised by a 
negro is worth just as much as a bushel of the same grade raised by a white 
man. The soil is there, and it is just as easy for the negro to get his liv- 
ing from it as it is for the white man. But it takes work. The negro can 
make more money with the same amount of work on the farm than he can 
in town, and he will be happier and better for it. 

"When I go to Kansas City I talk to the negroes there and urge them 
to get out on the farms. I tell them they cannot afford to raise their chil- 
dren in town. When a white boy gets out of school in the summer time 
he always finds a job. There are plenty of jobs in town for white boys, 
but there are very few for the black boys. During the summer the little 
negro boys loaf around the streets, they get bad habits and they grow up 
to be lazy and shiftless. There is always work to be done on the farm 
and there are no streets to play in and no bad companions to play with, and 
the negro boys and girls raised on the farm do not become lazy and 

"But when I talk this way to my people in the cities they say: — T 
haven't any money to get started on the farm. I get a dollar or two a 
day here and it keeps us, but that is all.' That is the same sort of story 
you hear from lazy white men, who are always telling about how they 
would get along if they had the money to start with, instead of quitting 
loafing around, whittling sticks and getting out and making some money. 

"Any negro who wants to can get out on the farm. All he needs to do 
is to make the change. Go anywhere in this country and get out in the 
country. There is plenty to do. He can find work easily. Let him work 
awhile. If he shows to the farmer and to the neighbors that he is indus- 
trious and honest and wants to do something for himself the way will be 
easy for him. He will have no trouble renting a little piece of land. 

"The farmers will lend him their teams and tools and advance the seed 
and take their pay when the crop is harvested. I know a dozen of negroes 
who have done and are doing this. They do not find trouble. It takes 
only a year or two for a negro's share of the crops to be sufficient for him 
to buy his teams and tools and a little later he can buy a little land 


of his own. All the capital any negro needs to get a start on the farm is 
his hands, a willingness to work and a determination to be honest." 

If the negro would get out of town, give up his idea of making a liv- 
ing with an old ramshackle wagon and a half-starved horse or mule, it 
would be better for him. The Humane Societies all over the land are 
rapidly doing a good work in putting him out of business. He can't ex- 
pect to feed his family and feed his horse on a few loads per day, picked 
up by chance. On every side are chances for him on the big farms, but he 
won't work if he can help it. He prefers to be his own boss, though he 
lives in a shanty and half the time hasn't enough to eat. I am speaking 
of course, of the race, as a race and not of the few hard-working ones. 







As stated elsewhere, the first court house in Vanderburg County was 
a portion of the two-story frame building of Hugh McGary. To give the 
exact location, it stood about forty feet from Main street and twenty-five 
feet from Water street, fronting on Main, the view from the front being up 
the river. At this time the house was entirely surrounded by a growth 
of large trees. The downstairs was composed of the usual two rooms, 
divided by a hall and in the second story Mr. McGary resided with 
his family. This has a great deal to do with the early history of Vander- 
burg County, for it was in 1819 that it was decided to incorporate the vil- 
lage and there were twenty-nine votes in favor of it and none against it. 
Lots that had been donated to the county were offered for sale in order 
that some adequate county buildings might be erected, as it was imposing 
on the good nature of McGary to use his residence for a court room. A 
number of lots were sold which amounted to a little over $4,000. On the 
15th of February, 1819, it was decided to locate a court house in the center 
of Main street at Third. This was afterwards altered to the south quarter 
of the public square, which occupied the four-quarter blocks on Main and 
Third streets. In June the square was cleaned up, but nothing further 
was done until 1820 when a pound, or, as called in those days, "stray pen," 
was erected which was made of white oak posts and rails and was about 
one hundred feet square. On the west quarter was a market house, which 
was torn down long before the writer came here. The new brick court 
house which was finally built, was on the south quarter block and was the 
first brick house in the town. It was very heavy looking, with heavy 
walls, strongly timbered and with a stone foundation three feet thick. It 
was thirty-four by forty-six feet in size and two stories high and was 
painted brown. At that time it was considered a very imposing building. 
There were five windows on each side and two in each end, while the door 
or main entrance was in the end fronting on Main street. The lower floor 


was all brick. The contract was given Elisha Harrison and Daniel F. Gold- 
smith. They took the contract in April, 1819, and delivered over the build- 
ing in May, 1820. At that time there was no money in the treasury and the 
building was paid for by orders which drew interest and as some of them 
were not taken up by the county for more than ten years, the cost was 
much increased. Strange as it may seem, a part of this building is still 
standing. There have been changes in the front of it, but the old bricks 
are still there and they lack only about ten years of being a century old. 
This speaks well for the quality of the bricks turned out in those days. 
Mr. James Newman up to 1837 kept the county records in his house, but 
at that time a fire-proof brick office was built eighteen by thirty feet large, 
just south of the court house. Again in 1833 a few changes were made in 
the court house and it was painted a deep green, but the county grew so 
fast and its business increased to such an extent that in 1852 a contract 
was let to James Roquet, one of whose sons still lives here, to build a new 
court house, jail and jailer's residence. This was to occupy the north cor- 
ner of Main and Third. The contract was that it was to be finished by 
March i, 1854, but there were many delays. The cost price was to be 
$14,000. Just before its completion, Christmas Eve, 1855, a fire began in 
the lumber yard of Robert Fergus, northeast of the court house, which 
destroyed the building. Some of the offices had been partially occupied and 
the records had been removed to them and were nearly all saved. In a year 
afterwards a contract to rebuild was let to Frank B. Allen for about the 
same price. This was completed in 1857 and will be remembered by many 
of our citizens. It was a two-story brick building in good style and 
crowned with a dome. The main entrance was through a portico supported 
by heavy Grecian columns. There was a corridor on either side in which 
were the offices of the auditor, clerk, sheriff, recorder and treasurer. The 
second floor was for the court room, commissioners' room, the jury room 
and the judge's office. Just next to it was the sheriff's residence with the 
jail in the rear. Many will remember when the late Gus Lemcke was elected 
sheriff and resided here with his family. This court house stood for many 
long years and in it were tried cases some of which, I am sorry to say, are 
still on the docket. At no time was it a greater center of attraction than 
on the day that two negroes were hanged to the lamp-posts just at the cor- 
ner of Main and Third, or the night when Hume Redmon, the blood-thirsty 
brute and murderer, who murdered his young wife at Mount Vernon, was 
taken from the jail and killed just around the comer on Sycamore street, 
after which his lifeless body was thrown into the corridor, where it lay for 
several hours and where no man, with a spark of manhood in him, no mat- 
ter how much sympathy he might have in his disposition, would pollute 
his hands by touching this debased hound. In fact, men who walked past 
him could hardly resist the temptation to kick his senseless body. As this 
may give an idea of what bad men were in the old times, a short history of 
this fiend may not be out of place. 


He was born and raised in Posey County and was a cowardly brute by 
instinct. He was the kind of a man who continually posed as a bad man 
who wanted to kill somebody, though I have always believed that he was 
a most arrant coward, and if he had not so completely hypnotized the people 
of Mount Vernon most any man might have knocked him down and he 
would have never offered to fight. I make this assertion because I have 
always found that brutes who abuse women always show the white feather 
when they meet a real man. This Redmon had been a drinking, carousing 
loafer around Mount Vernon but had moved to a little farm a few miles 
from town. He never attempted to till it, because he was too lazy to work. 
How he lived no one ever knew, unless he terrorized his neighbors into 
giving him food. By frightening the father and brothers of an unsophis- 
ticated young' girl, a daughter of a neighbor, he forced her to marry him 
and he immediately began a series of fiendish abuses. He would pinch 
her, burn her flesh and tortured her in every way and then when he wanted 
to go to town to go on one of his regular drunks, during which some one 
else always paid for his whisky, he would place her hands under a window 
sash, force the sash down and nail it tightly at the top, thus compelling this 
poor young thing to sit there, no matter what the weather might be, until 
he got good and ready to come back. He terrorized her, it seems, by telling 
her that if she ever complained he would kill her first and then all of her 
relatives. Finally, after a drunk of greater proportions than usual, he 
went home and, unfastening the window, began to abuse her. It seems 
that the poor young thing must have thought that she would be better off 
dead than alive and must have said something that angered him, for he 
pulled the nails from her fingers, choked her to death, left her there and 
went back to Mount Vernon. Some one found her and at last the Posey 
County people got a little courage into their hearts and arrested the fiend 
and he was put into a Mount Vernon jail. 

Safely jailed where he could not intimidate, a mob soon formed and the 
cry, "Take him to the cabin and bum him," was taken up all over Mount 
Vernon. The sheriff spirted him away to this city but it soon became known 
that he was in the Evansville jail. Word was sent to the police here that 
a mob was coming from Mount Vernon to take him out, and the entire 
force was called out to repel them. At that time Geo. W. Newman was the 
chief of police. About midnight the mob came, in buggies and on horse- 
back and began to form around the public square. At this time some fool 
turned in a fire alarm which sent the engines rushing in every direction. 
Men with sledge hammers broke in the jail door and though the sheriff 
tried to do his duty, I question very much whether he did not breathe a sigh 
of relief when the door broke in and they hurried to Redmon's cell, for he 
was too good a man to have a wretch of that kind even in a cell near his 
own family. Redmon was quickly hurried to a waiting buggy. The buggy 
started down Third and turned the comer of Sycamore. In it were two 
men and between them this cowardly murderer. An engine came tearing 


down Sycamore, frightened the horse and turned the buggy over, and the 
wretch at once tried to escape but one of the sledge hammers was quickly 
brought down on his skull and he dropped a corpse. He was then dragged 
by the heels to the court house and left in a position which I described at 
first. Unfortunately, during the excitement and while the mob had turned 
away from the court house, shots were fired by the police and one young man 
the only son of a widow, who had done nothing save come with the others, 
was killed. No one has ever known who fired that shot, but it was un- 
called for. If the police had stood at the door to keep the mob back and 
face them, man to man, it would have been different, but to fire at the back 
of a fleeing man, one who has not broken the law, is something not recog- 
nized in the presene police code. I believe that one or two others were 
hit but not killed. At any rate, this one boy was worth ten thousand 
wretches like the brute who met his deah at Sycamore and Third. 

The building was again completed in 1857 and as the business kept in- 
creasing, it soon became thoroughly understood by the people that something 
must be done in the way of building a better court house and there were 
many who had the business discernment to see that if we attempted one 
at all, it would he well to erect a building which would last for all time to 
come and our present court house is the result. There have been many who 
have criticised the amount of money spent for this court house and also 
the choice of location, but it should be remembered that the old court house 
only occupied a quarter of a block and that it was almost impossible to buy 
more ground near it, and that also the building must be utilized until the 
new one was completed. The chief criticism regarding the location of the 
new court house was regarding the fact that it was built on what is known 
as "made ground," a portion of its structure being directly over the canal 
basin, but those who remember the old basin and its exact location, will 
testify that very little of the actual weight of the new building rests on what 
was the basin and also that the deep part of the excavation of the basin 
was on the west side. As is generally known, there has been slight set- 
tling in this building at times and there are those who predict that at some 
time there will be a gradual sinking of the entire structure, but they should 
remember that almost every building of any size in Evansville has settled. 

Leaving the old days for a moment and coming back to the present, there 
are many who wonder why the foundations of buildings of any size in 
Evansville are so carefully built. This is because the soil under the main 
part of this city is of a sandy nature. There are many who will remember 
that the beautiful four-story 140-foot long queensware building on 
First street, built just after the war, suddenly sank one Sunday 
afternoon, the main portion of the building pitching forward into First 
street. Up to that time there had not been a crack in the building and no 
one has ever been able to account for this, yet only half a block below this 
stands the old Carpenter building which was used when the war broke out 
as a hospital, and though cracked in many places, has stood the test of time 


ever since and is now occupied by Mr. John Hubbard as a seed store. A 
decision to build a new court house was reached in 1886. In 1887 the 
Union block, on one corner of which the old Union brewery once stood, 
bounded by 4th and 5th, and Vine and Division, was bought. In Septem- 
ber of the same year, a contract for the new court house was let to Charles 
Pearce for $379,450, The jail and sheriff's residence and the fixtures and 
furnishing and other things reached in the end $650,000. The new court 
house was completed and opened for business in February, 1891. It was 
in 1869 that a criminal court was instituted in this county. This was in 
an old building that stood next to the Lottie hotel. It was a church when 
I came here and I remember that when but a boy I sat in one of the old 
seats and heard one of the old style exhorters preach and he so filled my 
young mind with the tortures of hell and the burning and the utter damna- 
tion of the souls of men, women, children and even babies, that to me he 
seemed like some monster, and I was so frightened that my father took me 
away before waiting for the final termination of the services. This goes 
to show that religion as everything else, has changed. One of these old 
time exhorters whose chief aim in life was to look sour, never smile, claim 
that it was by fasting and continued sourness and absolute lack of the milk 
of human kindness, that a man could get to heaven, could not get a salary 
of IOC in these days. That kind of religion has been superseded by some 
thing broader and founded more on the teachings of the Great Master. 

After this a superior court was created as an aid to the criminal court. 
This was in the year 1877. This building was used until the new court 
house was completed. The postoffice at that time was in the lower part of 
this same building which was one of the old landmarks. I think that the 
late A. T. Whittelsey was the last postmaster who occupied this building. 


On May 11, 1818, the plans were laid for the first jail in Vanderburg 
County. It was built on the public square a little back from the street. 
It was 12 feet in the clear, had double walls of oak, one foot apart, and 
filled with timber set on end and reaching three feet below the floor in the 
ground. The logs were notched at the ends so as to interlock, as that was 
the style of the times. The lower floor was double and the timbers crossed 
each other and passed through the inner wall abutting against the upright 
oak timbers. The second floor and ceiling was of heavy oak. The stairs 
were against the outside of the building and one led to the dungeon 4 by 
12 in size, with two small iron-grated windows and this was the place for 
the vilest law offenders. The other room was for debtors and had 12 by 
15 inch windows. This was a little larger than the dungeon. This jail was 
built by Hugh McGary at the cost of $875. It was sold September, 1829, 
for $I9.37>4. After that they kept their culprits at some tavern and se- 
cured them with a ball and chain and set some one to watch over them. 


On September 26th, a contract was let for a new jail to be built on the 
same site. It took two months to finish it and it cost $350. It was two 
stories high, 18 by 32 feet in size, had a stone foundation, floors of hewn 
timber covered with plank, double walls with stone between in the lower 
story. The upper story had a single wall. When James Roquet built the 
court house, and completed it in 1855, he also built a jail which was used 
for nearly 40 years, that is, up to the time the present jail was occupied, 
which was in 1891. This structure was completed in 1855. It was of stone, 
two stories high, had sixteen cells and a capacity for 40 prisoners. A 
sheriff's residence was built at the same time on 3rd street. It was built 
of brick just in front of the jail. The sheriff's residence and jail of the 
present stand on Fourth street opposite the court house. 

The following are some of the cases that came up: 

At the second term of the circuit court held in May, 1818, the first 
cause for murder came up. Jesse AIcGary was a rough backwoodsman 
living in what is now Scott township. He was charged with killing his 
wife Catharine. He entered a plea of "not guilty" and they postponed his 
trial. His bond was fixed at $10,000. At the March term 1819 he was 
tried before a jury and found "not guilty." The acquittal was secured 
on a singular plea. McGary and his wife had had some trouble of some 
sort and one day as Catharine was entering the cabin door, Jesse shot her 
through the heart with his rifle. On trial he declared that he had shot at 
the dog not knowing his wife was at that moment about to enter the house 
and that he had accidentally killed her instead of the dog. 

An interesting scene was the suit of chancery or equity, brought by 
Joseph M. McDowell, et al. vs. John J. Audubon, et al. The subsequent 
career of the principal respondent in the suit caused greater interest to at- 
tach to the case than would perhaps otherwise belong to it. This Audubon 
afterwards became the celebrated ornithologist. He was a Frenchman but 
had, previous to the suit, established a steam saw mill at Henderson, Ken- 
tucky, and failed in the enterprise. Later he moved to Louisville. Mc- 
Dowell charged in his complaint, that Audubon and others had sold some 
land 569 acres in fractional sections 2 and 3, township 7 south, range 11 
west — to the plaintiffs for $300. Jacob Gall had effected the sale. It was 
charged that Audubon's interest in the tract was obtained surreptitiously 
and fraudulently. Audubon answered that Gall had signed portions of the 
land to him previous to the sale to secure or indemnify him against loss of 
money loaned Gall. The case was finally determined in the October term 
1822. The decision went adverse to the complainants and they were also 
forced to pay the costs of the suit. 

But the first judicial execution was the hanging of John Harvey for 
the murder of a man named Casey near the old McDowell farm in Union 
township. The trial was heard before Judges Goodlet, McGary and Olm- 
stead, by a jury whose names were Joseph Wilson, Joseph McCallister, 
Samuel Henyon, Elisha Durphey, Lewis Williams, John Fickas, Henry 


James, Elijah Walters, Ben Barker and Robert Gibson. After a brief de- 
liberation the jury returned the verdict of guilty. The motion for a new 
trial was denied. A motion to arrest judgment was overruled and on 
June 7, 1823, he was sentenced to be hung on the 27th of the same month. 
Near the center of the west quarter the gallows was erected. The militia 
under Gen. Robert M. Evans and Col. Hugh McGary was on the grounds, 
four abreast, in the form of a hollow square around the gallows. When 
Sheriff R. N. Warner shook the hands of the condemned man in eternal 
goodbye, the officer cried openly. The trap was sprung and after the body 
was cut down the soldiers marched away. The dead criminal was buried 
near the foot of the gallows. Years afterward when excavating for a 
building, the bones were dug up and afterwards wired by Dr. Isaac 
Hutchinson. Some doubted his intentional guilt, as it was said there was 
a woman back of it all. In those days the ability to fight was looked on 
as an evidence of perfect manhood. The average man did not seek to in- 
fluence any one by soft words, but doubled up his fists and gave him to 
understand that fists were the most persuasive arguments, so it is not a 
matter of surprise that many of the very best men in the little town were 
indicted in that very court house. Hugh McGary was indicted for ob- 
taining money under false pretenses. A preacher was fined ic for being 
mixed up in some shady legal transaction. There were indictments for 
extortion, taking up horses without leave, practicing medicine without 
license, disturbing religious meetings, gambling and betting, for in those 
days it was illegal to bet. In 1836 John Evans and Mr. Goodsell bet $500 
on an electoral vote of Indiana, Evans betting that Gen. Harrison would get 
the vote. Evans was fined ic and Goodsell $30.52. Just why he was fined 
so much more than Evans was probably one of the political transactions 
of the day. Dr. William Trafton, who stood very high as a physician 
was arrested for claiming two colored women and four children who were 
set free in Mississippi on the death of their master. 

There have only been two legal executions in this county. The last one 
was in 1871, one Ben Sawyer, a big negro who hung for the murder of 
his wife on the steamer Thomas, as she lay at the wharf just below Vine 
street. Ben was a black brute and his wife had left him and refused to 
go back and live with him. She was ironing in the wash room of the 
Thomas and he slipped up behind her and beat her head almost to a pulp 
with a flat iron. The trial only lasted two days and on Friday, the 26th of 
May, he was executed in the jail yard by the sheriff. In this connection 
as a matter of anecdote it might be well to refer to another hanging that 
should have taken place in this county, not so many years ago. A poor 
little German child was killed in a field on the Mt. Vernon road. The 
circumstances were particularly atrocious. 

In the working up of the case, the detective and police found where a 
negro had been seen near the field, where the brutal murder occurred. He 
had been traced to a buggy, and had ridden to Mt. Vernon with a man. 


In Mt. Vernon he had changed his bloody clothes and had then crossed the 
river and gone into hiding somewhere near a small Kentucky town. He 
was arrested but through the work of a jackleg lawyer was never brought 
back here. It was generally understood at that time by people who looked 
below the surface, that it was a matter in which politics cut quite a figure. 
At any rate, this negro who, without a doubt, was guilty, was saved by 
this lawyer and if the latter can ever make his peace with his God, let 
it be hoped that it may come before his death. As it is, it was one of the 
most outrageous perversions of justice that ever occurred in this neighbor- 
hood. The negro should have been brought here and hung. Of all those 
who remember the case, not one out of loo ever had the least doubt as to 
who committed this deed, and it was the common comment that at the same 
time that when the negro suffered his penalty on the gallows the jackleg 
lawyer should have been given a coat of tar and feathers and run out of 
the state he had disgraced forever. 


Almost as sad as the history of the canal is a portion of the history of 
the early railroads of Evansville. By this is meant the various roads that 
came into the city for a time after the E. & T. H. railroad was built. The 
history of almost all railroads in the west at that time was the same. They 
were built not with much idea of helping the country, as the smooth tongued 
orators stated, but with a view of making easy money for the promoters. 
In their desire to get these roads through and at the same time make large 
sums of money for themselves, these men stopped at nothing. No promise 
was too great for them to make. No assertion of possibility or probability 
of the railroad was too great. The plan was worked about as follows : 

Backed by a small amount of Eastern capital, certain oily tongued indi- 
viduals would be sent to go over a country through which their backers in 
the east imagined a railroad could be run. These parties then made quite 
a display of surveying implements and would first map out a prospective 
route. Then a member would go to each little town while the others took 
in the farmers along the line and they all told about the same story. The 
object was to make the town think and the farmers think that the only way 
for any absolute progress in the future would be to run that , railroad 
through. Thus they got the farmers to donate Rights of Way through 
their lands and by smooth work and possibly by the judicious outlay of a 
little money, they prevailed on each town on the route to give a certain 
amount. Then they would go to work, not with any thought of making 
anything of the great Trunk Line about which they had done so much 
talking, but with the sole idea of getting down some kind of a road which 
would be equipped with any sort of locomotives and cars to run for a 
short time. They knew full well that the road would never pay expenses, 
not for one single day. Even though they drew into their rings conserv- 


ative business men who were supposed to have some voice in matters, every- 
thing was manipulated in the East and whenever the East decided that it 
was time for the road to break up and go into the hands of a receiver, it 
was quickly done. These receivers, it is needless to say, had full instruc- 
tions from those higher up. It is probable that many citizens know the 
story of several receiverships in Evansville and how one receiver who 
gained his position through political influence, drew $12,000 salary each 
year, but was never here but once during each twelve months, and prob- 
ably knew as little about the real condition of the road as any boy who 
could be picked up on the streets. However, he drew his salary all the 
same. This matter might be dwelt on more fully but there is no desire 
on the part of this work to open up old sores. The railroads then built 
have passed into the hands of other parties as was intended from the be- 
ginning and Evansville is left with an enormous debt to pay for something 
she never received. As this matter will be taken up later on, it will be dis- 
missed for the present. 

In the year 1835 an improved bill was introduced which provided for 
the building of a railroad running northward from Evansville, but it was 
not until 1837 that its success was looked for. The country was in such a 
bad condition financially that no one hoped that the money could be raised 
to build a railroad and it was more than ten years before anything more 
was done. Evansville had been growing in the meantime and had a city 
charter and was already looked on as one of the coming cities of the state 
of Indiana. Her citizens saw that a railroad to bring in the rich supplies 
from the northern country was an absolute necessity and even at that time 
they hoped for the same great connection with the lakes that had been 
hoped for at the time the canal was built. Laws had been passed by 
which local aid might be granted the road through the votes of the people. 
In March, 1849, the county commissioners ordered an election for April 
1 2th, to decide upon the feeling of the people on the question of subscribing 
for stocks amounting to $100,000 in the Evansville & Indianapolis Railroad 
Company. The proposition carried 624 votes for it and 288 against it. In 
June of the same year the county auditor was ordered to subscribe for 
500 shares at once and 1,500 shares more after the Railroad company was 
fully organized. The county treasury was at that time low, and the treasurer 
was ordered to negotiate for a four months note for $1,020.50, running 
four months at the Evansville Branch bank. The proceeds to go to sub- 
scription payments, the ratio being $2 on each 500 shares. In August, 
1849, James T. Walker was authorized to vote the 500 shares of stock. 
The directors were Samuel Hall, James Bosswell. of Princeton, James 
Lockheart, John Ingle, Jr., John S. Hopkins, James E. Jones, John Hewson, 
Samuel Orr, and ]\Iichael E. Jones, of this city. At the next election Mr. 
Walker voted as proxy 2,000 shares, and the only change was that the 
name of Mr. Boswell was dropped from the roll of Directors and that of 
Willard Carpenter substituted. To pay the balance due on subscription. 


the county issued $99,000 in 6 per cent bonds in December, 1849, which 
were delivered to Samuel Hall, president of the railroad, in return for a 
certificate for 200 shares of stock. The bonds were of small average valu- 
ation and the interest was payable in Evansville. This interfered with 
their sale in the East and later these very inartistic bonds were exchanged 
for beautiful new ones in large dimensions for coupons payable in New York, 
and while this did not increase their value, they certainly looked more like 
real bonds. It is a strange fact that even in those days a beautifully ex- 
ecuted bond, glittering with gold leaf and done in fine type, though of really 
small intrinsic value, would more easily attract a purchaser than an abso- 
lutely good bond done in a western printing office. In June, 1854, the 
county auditor was authorized to issue certificates in payment of taxes 
levied in 1850-51 and '53 to each tax payer. These were presented at the 
office and scrip was issued for them. When a sufficient amount of these 
was accumulated, say $50 worth, that amount of railroad stock was issued 
to the tax payer who thus became part owner of the road. The railroad 
company, however, soon found that the people were getting too much stock 
and transactions of this kind were very suddenly stopped. Vanderburg 
county held this stock for many years, drawing dividends on the same. In 
1875 Philip Decker offered to buy the shares owned by the county and the 
sale was actually made to Mr. Decker through Arnold Schraeder, $36,000 
being the amount of the purchase money. Judge Richardson, however, of 
the circuit court, secured an injunction and prevented the sale. In June 
following, Messrs. Decker, Shrader, W. R. McKeen, of Terre Haute, and 
John E. Martin, returned the stock and received their money back and on 
June 30, 1881, the stock being offered at public auction by the auditor, it 
was sold to David J. Mackey for $150,000. The city of Evansville as well 
as the county of Vanderburg helped in the building of this railroad by 
subscribing for $100,000 of its stock and this went with the other to D. J. 
Mackey for $150,000. The road was finally finished and put in operation 
in 1853. First it was called the Evansville and Indianapolis, after that the 
Evansville and Crawfordsville. which latter name was then changed to 
Evansville and Terre Haute. Samuel Hall of course was the first presi- 
dent. He was an absolutely honest and honorable man and in every way 
fitted for the position. His successor was John Ingle, Jr., one of the most 
able men of this city. He was a lawyer by profession, full of energy and 
a good thinker and a man well capable of conducting the affairs of a rail- 
road. He was president of the road until shortly before his death at 
which time Mr. John E. Martin became president and also held that posi- 
tion for many a year. Mr. Martin introduced many improvements and 
under his able management the road rapidly increased in value. His con- 
nection ceased only when D. J. Mackey took control. Mr. Mackey's man- 
agement of this road was wonderful. In every detail his hand could be 
seen. He was an incessant worker and is said, knew every foot of the 
road bed by heart, having walked over it from this city to Terre Haute 



many times. He was a man of boundless ambition and his greatest ambi- 
tion was to make the E. & T. H. a part of a Grand Trunk line from Chi- 
cago to Evansville, thus making Evansville the often called "Gateway to 
the South." For some years there was a struggle between Terre Haute 
and Evansville for the location of the shops, but tliey were located here and 
will always remain here. It is impossible today to fix a valuation on this 
railroad. While it does not always appear among the quoted stocks in 
New York, it is known as one of the best and most ably managed roads 
in the west. Its business will never decrease and with the opening of the 
Panama Canal and the naturally increasing traffic on the Ohio, no one can 
tell what its possibilities may be. The above road was scarcely completed 
and its northern terminal fixed upon, before there was an agitation to build 
a road from this city direct to Indianapolis. It would in some respects be 
a rival to the E. & T. H. but only for a short distance and it was estimated 
that there was room enough for both. The prime mover in this new road 
was Willard Carpenter who spent several years of very hard work in try- 
ing to get it through. Mr. Carpenter had been one of the prime movers in 
the building of the E. & T. H. and had taken more stock than any other 
two men in the county, but his object had always been to run the road up 
the White river valley to Indianapolis. He always claimed that this was 
the only proper thing to do. So in 1853 he resigned as director and with 
Ex-Senator E. H. Smith made an agreement to build a road from Evans- 
ville to Indianapolis to be known as the Straight Line. Some $900,000 was 
procured along the line. Mr. Carpenter himself subscribed $65,000 and 
grading progressed rapidly for fifty-five miles, at which time Mr. Carpenter 
went to Europe to purchase the rails. It was at this time that he first found 
that he was surrounded by enemies who had gotten up a pamphlet con- 
taining misrepresentations which was distributed among the banks and the 
rail makers in London, Paris and Wales. So well was this work done that 
his plans were completely prostrated. He finally called on Vorse, Perkins 
& Co., who had houses both in London and in New York, and after much 
negotiations made a contract with that firm. His agreement was to pay 
$12,000 in mortgage bonds per mile on the road, $200,000 worth of real 
estate bonds and $100,0000 of Evansville city bonds, which the city had 
subscribed but had not delivered to him. All other bonds he had with him 
and they were to be handed over in July to the New York house of \'orse 
Perkins & Co. Mr. Carpenter wrote to Mr. Henry D. Allis, urging him to 
call the city council together and deliver the $100,000 of bonds to Vorse 
Perkins & Co. in New York, but the enemies of the road were now at work 
in his own city and the council refused. Mr. Carpenter then offered to 
secure them by mortgaging all his real estate in both the city and county 
(which was very extensive) to indemnify them, so that cars might be run- 
ning over the first fifty-five miles to the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad cross- 
ing before December, 18^9, but council made a mistake by refusing to do 
this. Of course certain pressure was brought to bear upon them, but as to 


that, this work has nothing to say. The fact remains that their work 
caused the failure of the Straight Line railroad and it was one of the great- 
est detriments that could have happened to the city of Evansville. Of 
course the road has virtually been built since this, but it was at this council 
meeting that the big mistake was made. The bed to this old road of course 
still remained grown up with trees and undergrowth of every kind, until 
R. G. Hervy of Terre Haute got hold of the old franchise and induced 
the city by popular vote to grant aid to the amount of $300,000. This 
money, however, was never paid, as the road was not constructed as prom- 
ised. But the city's promise hung over it as a debt for many years and it 
was at length compromised by an agreement on the city's part, to pay 
$196,000. Bonds were issued for this amount. Mr. Hervy did not com- 
plete the road though this construction was well under way when he sold 
all his interests to D. J. Mackey. Mr. Mackey paid Hervy's debts for 
grading. Under Mr. Mackey 's management, however, it was completed 
and is now one of the important factors in the railroad system of Evans- 
ville. In 1879 a company known as the Local Trade Company undertook 
to construct a system of roads in Evansville and as the name would inti- 
mate, the idea was to built roads which would bring in all the trade of the 
surrounding neighborhood of this city. The first president was a lawyer, 
Robert E. Hill. It first asked for $100,000, then withdrew the petition 
and asked for $150,000. The people refused to grant this but subsequently 
they voted to give the road $65,000 if it should be completed by January, 
1881. The road was not completed and these bonds were destroyed and 
it is a great misfortune that the city was not able to destroy certain other 
bonds at the same time. This Local Trade Company then submitted another 
proposition by which it undertook to construct the Peoria, Decatur & Evans- 
ville road. They asked $100,000 for this. This proposition did not meet 
with popular approval. The Peoria, Decatur & Evansville later on asked 
the city to subscribe for $125,000 of its stock, agreeing to construct its 
road and maintain its shops in this city. The amount was voted and bonds 
were issued for 1,250 shares of the stock May i, 1880. Many will remem- 
ber the great line of talk that was made about the wonderful amount of 
business that these shops would bring to Evansville. This formed the 
topic of many a speech and the only trouble is that too many people took 
these speeches as they were given and not for what they were worth, for 
it was soon found that though a sort of building was erected for the shops, 
there had never been any intention to carry the work on in this city. These 
bonds were taken up in 1881. The stock was sold for $125,000, and the 
P. D. & E. road became a part of the Mackey system. The lines owned 
and operated by the great L. & N. Railroad Company formed a very im- 
portant part of the system of Evansville railroads and while at present 
every one appreciates the great help that this road has been to this city, 
it may be well to go back to their connections with the road and state ,a 
few facts. 


In 1870 the city and county respectively, subscribed for $150,000 city 
and $120,000 county of stock in the Evansville, Cincinnati and Paducah 
railroad company. These amounts were afterwards doubled, on the con- 
solidation of that road with the Evansville and Southern Illinois to the St. 
Louis and Southwestern Railroad Companies. In 1873 these consolidated 
lines got the name of the St. Louis and Southwestern Railroad Company, 
delivered its stock certificates to the city and county and received bonds in 
payment therefor. The city in the meantime had also subscribed for 
$300,000 worth of stock of the Evansville, Henderson and Nashville rail- 
road company, had paid $500,000 in cash, and had delivered bonds for 
the remainder of the amount. By the consolidation of these various lines 
which connected Evansville with the southwest, the name of Evansville, 
the city that had given far more than what her share should have been, 
was completely wiped out. This met with righteous indignation on the 
part of many citizens and it will be remembered that Hiram E. Reed 
called a public meeting and told the people a few things about what had 
been done and how they had been done. At that time Gen. Winslow was 
president of the road, and when he learned that steps had been taken to 
prevent the delivery of the bonds, he offered to compromise by agreeing 
that the road should be advertised on all its cars at all its stations and in 
all its advertising matter, as the St. Louis, Evansville and Nashville Rail- 
road Company. Having gotten hold of the bonds, it is needless to say that 
it was only a short time until the rain or something else completely wiped 
out the name of Evansville. Another thing, while it may not have been a 
matter of black and white, it was absolutely understood when the people 
voted to aid the road, that the company was to build and maintain its 
shops in this city. The paper was lost and I only wish I could give the 
name of the man who helped lose it. And in the record of the contract 
strange enough, there was no reference to the shops, so the road located its 
shops at Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Winslow then consolidated the west and 
southern divisions of the line in 1872. His claim was that it would lessen 
the cost of operation and now for figures. There were no flies on Wins- 

When this consolidation was accomplished, the Western division was 
bonded for $1,500,000 and the southern division for $1,100,000 and the 
stock and the road of which the city of Evansville held $600,000 worth, 
was worth the paper it was written on and no more. So much for smooth 
railroad work. In 1874 it passed, of course, as was usual in those days, 
into the hands of a receiver and so bought up the Louisville and Nashville 
Railroad Company. The bonds which we are paying for today and which 
our children will continue to pay ofif, are the result of just such manipula- 
tions as the above, aided by the smooth-tongued C. H. Venner, mention of 
whom will appear later .on. In 1885 the L. & N. built a splendid steel 
bridge at Henderson. It is needless to say that though this road bears the 
southern name, and is supposed to be the connecting link between two 


southern cities and the name of Evansville does not appear, it has a warm 
place in the hearts of every true citizen, for it never promised anything 
which it did not do. Its immense shops at Howell virtually built up that 
beautiful suburban city, while its splended passenger station and freight 
yards completed but a short time ago, show only too well that although 
Evansville is not on their cars, it cuts an important figure with their man- 
agement. Another road was the Lake Erie, Evansville and Southwestern, 
which was designed to connect with northern and western cities, but its 
means were small and after building the road as far as Boonville, it was 
compelled for some time to stop, they being unable to build any further. It 
passed into the hands of a receiver and became the property of the Louis- 
ville, Evansville and St. Louis, called the Air Line. The road was so ex- 
tended that at Huntingburg it connects directly with the main line from 
Louisville to St. Louis. This line runs over a country of magnificent min- 
eral resources. Along it are immense amounts of the very best stone for 
ballast material for making lime, etc., while underneath it, for almost its 
entire distance, are vast beds of coal. Even if it does no local business, 
there is enough freight of this nature to keep its entire rolling stock busy 
during all the whole year. The Ohio Valley road runs from Evansville to 
Nashville, Tennessee, by way of Princeton and Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and 
comes through a very fine agricultural country. It also brings much trade 
to the wholesale merchants of Evansville. It has always been well man- 
aged and while not as important a road as some others, is a valuable ac- 
quisition to the city. The belt line is a road that runs around the entire 
city and connecting all the roads and running switches into great manu- 
facturing plants and thereby making itself a most important adjunct to 
progress. In 1873 the Evansville and Louisville narrow gauge railroad 
company asked for $225,000 from the county but the petition was with- 
drawn and in 1874 the Evansville, Jackson and New Orleans railroad com- 
pany asked for $300,000. For this an election was ordered but the order 
was afterwards rescinded. In 1875 the Henderson Mining and Trans- 
portation company asked for $200,000 to aid in building a road to begin at 
the river bank just opposite the city and run to Henderson. This was to 
be a Gap road, but while much was talked of at the time, nothing was done 
regarding it. In 1875 the Evansville and Newburgh Narrow Gauge asked 
for $22,000 but the proposition did not carry at the polls. Glancing at 
the above figures one will note how many demands have been 'made to 
start different roads and what vast amounts of money this city and county 
have been asked to give. Some of these propositions were all right but 
others were all wrong. No progressive man doubts but that railroads in 
every direction are a good thing, especially in this era of progress, but 
there are many conservative people who fail to see just why our already 
sorely taxed citizens should be compelled to pay so much for individual 
enterprises that could in no way ever return them a penny except in the 
way of a natural growth that comes to any city. And in conclusion, out 


of all the vast sums given by Evansville and Vanderburg County to these 
various roads, the only ones from which any money results were ever at- 
tained, were from the sale of the stock of the E. & T. H. and the P. D. & 
E. In 1888 $60,000 was voted to the Evansville Suburban and Newburgh 
road to aid in construtcing a dummy line from this city to Newburgh. 
This was a good investment. The little line has been of incalculable value 
to our city and its success has done much to encourage the other traction 
lines which are now coming in from every direction. Not so long ago there 
was a great deal of talk about an alleged railroad which was to come direct 
from Chicago to the city of Evansville, coming in where it pleased, put- 
ting up a great granite wall in the river with coal docks adjacent, building 
stations just where it pleased, in the rear of some of the handsomest homes 
of Evansville, and in fact, possibly coming down through Sunset Park and 
back again by Riverside avenue, through its center if it so pleased. This, 
however, proved to be one of the roads, the chief asset of which consisted 
of talk, and while some people allowed this to agitate them, the majority 
of the people paid little heed to what the road had to say through its agent 
here. In fact, its chief advocate being a rather conservative sort of a man, 
seemed to have as little to say as possible. Be that as it may, whoever was 
behind this road, soon found that a roadbed built as suggested was almost 
an impossibility and would meet with the same fate as did the outer wall 
of the water works and also found, that while they claimed that a railroad 
has absolute right to condemn any property, over which it saw fit to locate 
its right of way anywhere it chose, there were some good people who had 
been in this town perhaps longer than the projectors of the road who had 
an idea that they also had some rights and if these two rights clashed to- 
gether, the railroad would be the sufferer. The matter now seems to be 
dead. While it was being discussed, it was generally referred to as "t'he 
railroad on paper." Just at present all eyes are turned to the Big Four 
which is coming into the city across Sweezer's pond. Work on this road is 
being pushed as rapidly as thorough engineering and unlimited wealth can 
make it go. Its entrance will be quite an event for our city, as the ramifica- 
tions of this great system are so great that they take in an enormous 
amount of territory. 

Before leaving the subject of railroads, it might be as well to explain a 
little further about the bonds which now constitute such a great part of the 
debt of Evansville. Along in the year 1887 the different newspapers and 
very probably some of the city officials began to get letters from parties 
hitherto unknown in the East, asking about the situation of the railroad 
debt owed by the city of Evansville. It was suggested that the city, which 
had repudiated its debt could never expect to prosper, and that if the citi- 
zens as a whole would decide to become honest and pay its debts, certain 
amends might be made and the once fair name of the city, now stained 
with dishonor, might be restored to it. About this time several of the 
papers took up the matter and probably being misled, as were many 


others, suggested that this was the only honorable thing to do. This was a 
most unfortunate movement on the part of the press and it would seem, 
looking at it from the light of latter years, that none of the papers took 
pains to see exactly how this aforesaid debt happened to be settled on to 
Evansville. Be that as it may, it was not long until a gentleman from 
Boston, who pronounced it Baston, appeared on the scene. His name was 
Clarence Venner. He wore good clothes in the very extreme of fashion, 
stopped at the St. George in the very best suite of rooms, spent money 
freely, and had one of the most oily and effective tongues that had ever 
been sprung upon this devoted public. He first saw the press, then very 
probably the councilmen and then still more probably, several leading and 
influential citizens, who like himself, were good talkers, and to each and 
all he told the story of the poor widows and orphans in the East who had 
bought these bonds and were now starving because they were unable to 
raise any money on them. According to his story, the city of "Baston" 
was almost made up of these weeping widows and fatherless orphans. He 
also suggested that aside from all that, that to prosper we must be honest. 
His friends finally brought together a public meeting in the old court room 
which stood where the Lottie barber shop now stands. At this meeting 
Mr. Venner appeared and told the story about the bonds which he pro- 
nounced "Bahnds" and at the end of his pitiful story there was not a dry 
eye in the house, except the eyes belonging to certain parties with whom 
Mr. Venner had had various confidential talks. This is history about 
which there is absolutely no doubt. After this first meeting there were 
several others and as a result of the pitiful tales of Mr. Venner, there were 
more and more people who began to sorrow for the poor widows and 
finally the said \^enner decided that the trap was about ready to be sprung. 
How well he sprung it, the officials who are now trying to pay off this enor- 
mous debt, know only too well. It is not the object of this work to give 
the why and wherefore of any of the deeds of the citizens of Evansville, 
but it is only regrets that for the sake of this fair city whose beauties it is 
now trying to give to the public, that the city officials did not demand from 
Mr. Venner the list of those widows and orphans. It is a safe proposition 
that neither a widow or an orphan owned one cent of Evansville paper. 
This paper, suposed to be valueless, was in the hands of ecrtain eastern 
brokers and any business man knows well enough that long ere he started 
to Evansville, Mr. Venner knew exactly the amount for which these bonds 
could be bought. And it must have been a very small one, and he knew 
therefore, that his profit could only be determined by the amount of money 
above the stated price that his smooth tongue could work out of the people 
of Evansville. He went away from here perfectly happy, and the last the 
writer heard of him he had succeeded in marrying a very rich widow in 
Russia. Whether he was over there in the interests of widows in "Baston" 
no one knows, but it is safe to say that the same good talk that he made 
here in Evansville brought him a home and a rich wife. 








Evansville has always been proud of her magnificent fire department and 
very justly so, for in the early days the efficiency of the fire department 
grew more rapidly perhaps than that of any other undertaking. In fact, 
when at one time the assets of the city of Evansville were a matter of 
question, it was said that her fire department was the only real asset that 
she had. Yet at that time there were few hose houses and very few horses. 
In another place this work has treated of the days when the Neptune, the 
Young America and the Little Sis were the only engines here. Shortly after 
this period, the city purchased a larger hand-power engine, known as the 
Washington and if I remember rightly, ^Ir. George Wolflin was in charge 
of this. It was many years afterward before the first steam engine was 
bought and as at that time we had no water works whatever, the water 
had to be taken from fire cisterns which were rapidly built in all parts of 
the city and more especially on and near Main street. These cisterns were 
kept up for a great many years and I can remember that at times when 
the pressure from the water works was not sufficient, it was no uncommon 
thing for a steam engine to be nm up over one of these fire cisterns and the 
water used from it. About the first man who was ever known as a natural 
fire chief was Mr. William E. Hollingsworth, who at that time was in the 
queensware business with his brother. Almost every man has some par- 
ticular thing for which he seems i>eculiarly adapted and Mr. Hollingsworth's 
fort was in fighting fires. He was a man with a cool head who never lost 
it at any time and under any circumstances. He did not go crazy and 
raise up the town yelling his orders at the men so rapidly that they could 
scarcely understand him, but on his arrival at the fire, seemed to take in 
the situation at once. After that his commands were given in a quiet tone 
and always produced good results. For many years the city tried to induce 
him to accept the position of fire chief, but this he invariably refused to 
accept, stating that he was only a private citizen and while willing to do 


his duty, he did not wish to feel that he must at any time and at all times 
be ready to meet an emergency. He, however, stated to the committee 
who waited on him, that he was at all times ready to do his part. In those 
days the firemen were volunteers and it was not until later years that the 
city established a regular fire department, bought its own horses and paid 
fit salaries to its men in all the departments. 

To deviate for a moment, after the system of a paid fire department 
was in vogue, it naturally got into politics much to the regret of every one 
who had the real good of the city at heart, and for a time places on the 
fire department were simply used as a reward for peanut politicians who 
thus were enabled to surround themselves with ward-heelers. As is very 
natural, the fire department in those days was not what it should have 
been. Men were chosen not for their ability as fire fighters but for their 
ability to round up voters on election day and almost any man with a good 
political pull could hold his place on the department, no matter how often 
he broke the most rigid rules. The citizens soon became convinced that 
this state of affairs could not continue, and a metropolitan fire department 
was begun. According to the terms on which this was passed, a man who 
held his position must have proved himself worthy, he must obey all rules, 
never appear on duty in an intoxicated condition, never sleep on duty ex- 
cept on his watch-ofif and at all times be ready to answer an alarm. But 
it soon became understood that the Metropolitan name simply meant that 
either party could claim control and that the places should be divided 
equally or as nearly as possibe between the two big parties. In this con- 
nection the police department was brought into play and it was always 
understood that if the chief of the fire department was a democrat, the 
chief of the police department must naturally be a republican and vice 
versa. It is needless to say that each party took every advantage that they 
could and after a change in election, all sorts of charges would be brought 
up against members of the force who happened to be on the losing side 
and they were soon gotten out of the way and firemen whose political 
acumen led them to say very little were put in their places. It was always 
found necessary to pass an ordinance making it a misdemeanor for either 
a fireman or patrolman to do any work at the polls but there was nothing 
said about sending these henchmen out ahead of an election to do what 
necessary talking had to be done and "layoffs" were a regular thing for 
many a day before the election. At the present day things are getting into 
good shape and there is very little electioneering done. But this is only for 
the reason that each party is afraid to trust the other and each is afraid to 
establish any kind of a precedent. After the water works was built, the 
necessity for steam engines seemed to diminish and for a time they were 
stationed in the various houses and no attention paid to them. If they got 
out of repair, they were allowed to remain in that condition, as it was 
thought that the water works were amply sufficient to quell any fire that 
might start in this city. However, when two big fires which occurred close 


together, it showed that when a heavy strain was put on the water works 
they were absolutely incompetent to throw streams that would be of any 
real benefit and the old engines were ordered to be overhauled and put in 
first-class condition. This was a step in the right direction and one very 
much needed, as shortly after the steam engines had again been put into 
commission, there was an awful fire and without the aid of them, there is 
no telling how much damage might have been done. 

Again speaking of old times, when the first three engines that I have 
named were in commission, what was known as the Bucket Brigade, was 
always on hand and the women and children then assisted in getting water 
from their cisterns to the scene of the fire. As many have never seen 
these, I will describe it. Some two strong, active men jerked ofif the cis- 
tern top and the water was rapidly raised by buckets to which ropes were 
attached. These were emptied into other buckets and the second buckets 
passed from hand to hand. It was found that much time could be saved 
in this manner and much more speed gained than if a man took a bucket 
and ran from the cistern to the burning house. At the same time this gave 
the women a chance to help and they could easily pass buckets where their 
skirts would have impeded them had they tried to run. The great fire of 
1842 was what caused our citizens to first decide on purchasing an engine, 
but they didn't get one until 1847. This first engine was called the Union 
and the name was afterwards changed to Lamasco when it was moved to 
the lower part of the city. After the introduction of fire engines, this old 
machine was sold to the town of Tell City and is believed to be doing serv- 
ice there today. In 1852 there were five engines and the first real head, 
before Col. Hollingsworth began to take charge, was Joseph Turner. There 
was no rank of riches in the fire department. The best young men of 
what were then considered wealthy families, worked side by side with the 
sons of the very poorest and on their parades they all turned out together, 
with their red shirts, black pants and helmets. It was not until 1864 that 
the first steam engine was introduced and in 1867 the hand engines were 
all sold. When the first steam engine was purchased by the city, the mayor 
was supposed to be chief of the fire department, but at that time Mayor 
Baker was in the chair and was physically unfit to serve, so he appointed 
Philip Klein, a strong husky German, who was then at the head of the 
little police force of the city. The policemen, by the way, were expected to 
serve whenever there was a fire. This primitive method continued until 
the water works were constructed in 1871. Then the old engines were 
sold and were replaced by a new one, also called the Lamasco at that time 
William E. Hollingsworth finally consented to become chief and was paid 
a regular salary. After him came Thomas Hopkins and Ben Neihaus, 
then William Bedford, Jr. The city then became democratic and Thomas 
Bullen was appointed fchief. Then in 1887 when it became republican 
again, Philip Klein went back into his old position. Mr. Klein, although 
he probably attended very few fires, still manages to get to them when he 


can and all citizens should remember that for a quarter of a century he 
served well and faithfully and there is no man who can question his ability. 
Charles Becker was also fire chief just after and he retained this position 
for some years but he was an excitable man and hardly one to take com- 
mand of a good force during a large fire. It was not until 1888 that a 
regular pay system began, for prior to that time part of the force worked 
under what was called the runner's system. In other words, they could 
attend to their various duties in any part of the city just so they reported 
when the fire alarm was sounded. There were ten hose houses at that 
time and as stated, there were three engines which were stowed away. 
They also at that time had two chemicals, one hook and ladder wagon and 
truck, six hose reels and two hose wagons and twenty-six well-trained horses 
Along about that time came the great fire of the Armstrong Furniture Com- 
pany and the Reitz lumber yard which occurred in August and in the 
November following the fire which caused the great "burnt district" as it 
was called, which was an eye-sore on First street, between Sycamore and 
Vine, until Mr. Mackey, who was then in the full tide of power, rebuilt it. 
This big fire burned the old National Hall which had been built on the site 
of John O'Meara's Commercial House and every building clear up to the 
Clement, White & Baker building, which still stands on the corner of Syca- 
more and First. There was a little three-story brick occupied as a tobacco 
house which escaped fire and next to it stands the one vacant lot which is 
left to mark that most disastrous calamity to the city. The Leich drug store 
and the Hinkle and Mackey & Nisbet stores would certainly be a credit to 
any city in the country and it is fortunate that they were built up at the 
time, or possibly they would still be in the condition of the vacant lot stand- 
ing next to the Gilbert Block, just across the street. It may possibly be a 
matter of information to a great many to know exactly how fire horses 
are trained. In the first place, those who have seen our beautiful fire horses 
have doubtless wondered how it was that such beautiful specimens of horse 
flesh were picked up. They are not picked up, but each horse is the result 
of a great deal of care and a great deal of trying out. To begin with, each 
one must be of a certain height, must weight about so much and must be 
absolutely sound in wind and legs. Let a horse be ever so good looking 
and let him have any kind of a blemish, and he is at once turned down, 
for the work of the fast runs on the brick and asphalt streets is so trying, 
that only the very best specimens of horse flesh can stand the work without 
giving down within a very few years. The fact that we have horses that 
have been in the department for ten, twelve and fifteen years, and which 
still are perfect specimens, show how much care is used in their selection. 
Sometimes trips of hundreds of miles are made to look at certain horses, 
word of which has been brought to the chief, as he is always on the look- 
out for horses to replace those that are injured. When the horse to be 
tried is brought here, he is first inspected thoroughly. Among the firemen 
are many expert horsemen who can detect at once any blemishes. If the 


horse passes the inspection as to looks and weight, he is hitched with a 
mate, some old fire horse, to a heavily loaded hose wagon and then driven 
very rapidly, the point being to find in what condition his wind is, for the 
wind of a fire horse must always be absolutely perfect. If after a short run 
he shows any token of what is called short wind, or any defect in his lungs, 
he is at once turned down, but if he is found to be all right, though per- 
haps "soft," as it is called, through having been worked in the country and 
not in the city, he is put through a number of these runs day by day Until 
he hardens up and gets his wind. This is almost the same rule that is fol- 
lowed by a prize fighter when preparing for a long fight, for the horse, 
like the prize fighter, must be prepared to go through a great deal of very 
strenuous work before he is pronounced competent. Those who have 
stood at the door of an engine house and have noticed how at the tap of 
the gong the ropes drop, and the horses run directly under their collars 
ready to be hitched up, wonder how it is done. The "green" horse is al- 
ways in the next stall to an old well-trained horse. The first time the 
gong is sounded a fireman who is standing close, runs rapidly with him to 
his place, while another one switches him in the rear. He is thus taught 
that the sound of that gong means that he must run out of the stall or get 
a whipping. Of course the horse is never hurt, as firemen take the best 
care of their horses of any men in the world. This lesson is repeated day 
by day until the horse thoroughly understands what is expected of him and 
so proficient do they become that they will even run their necks under the 
collars and stand ready for the harness to drop on them. This dropping 
of the harness is done by a man who climbs up on the engine. He jerks a 
cord and the harness drops directly over the horses and as there are no 
buckles on which time may be wasted, but simply a series of snaps, little 
time is wasted. But even this takes a quick eye and a steady hand as one 
very serious accident occurred only a few years ago, when a fireman for- 
got to fasten the snap of the inner side of the bit of one of thehorses in a 
double team. Of course the driver took it for granted that everything was 
all right and started out and made his turn and then with full speed, started 
to make another turn, when he saw at once that he had no control over 
the horses at all. One of them was thrown down and badly hurt and a por- 
tion of the engine was wrecked and it is very fortunate that some of the 
firemen were not hurt, or even killed. This only goes to show how careful 
these firemen must be about every little detail. 

It will be remembered that I have spoken of changing the department 
from a simple paid department to one working under the Metropolitan 
police and fire arrangement. In 1889 Edward Grill, who had gone into the 
army at the age of 15 as a quartermaster sergeant and had served well 
and faithfully, was appointed chief at the same time U. S. Grant, who is 
the present chief of the fire department, entered the service as a captain. 
Edward Grill served until 1895 during which time they had the apparatus 
last mentioned. In 1895 William Schlavick was appointed, being promoted 


from the ranks. His conduct and his ability as a fireman of rapid and good 
judgment, caused him this promotion which was quite a good one. At that 
time the city had ten hose houses and two chemicals. It might be stated 
that at present the city has only one chemical, as it was decided to drop the 
other after the new combination hose wagons were put in. In 1897 Charles 
S. Woods was appointed chief and served until 1901. There was no in- 
crease in the complement of engines, trucks, chemicals or hose houses. In 
1901 Sydnor R. Carter was apointed chief and served until 1903. At this 
time there was still no change, but in 1903 James L. Dunlevy, a democrat, 
was appointed and he served for seven years, going out of office in 1910. 
In the meantime, two new hose houses had been built, one of the chemicals 
had been dropped, two combination wagons had been added, two trucks 
which had been in commission for same time were still retained, and the 
five fire engines had been put in complete order. In fact, two of these en- 
gines were new engines and the others had been sent back to the factory 
and had been completely remodeled so that the city today has five first- 
class engines. 

The writer took occasion to have a long talk with the present fire chief, 
iiMr. U. S. Grant, who has served 21 years in the department. He has held 
the four positions, of private, captain, assistant chief and chief, and it is 
indeed a worthy record for any one man to hold. But as I stated in this 
same article, men today hold their positions in this department by virtue of 
their ability and nothing else. A man might attempt to get on the fire de- 
partment and might be a wonderful aid to whatever administration hap- 
pened to be in power, but if he failed in his duty when called upon, he 
would last only a short time. In fact, on either fire or police department 
of the greater city of Evansville today, workers and not sitters are what 
are wanted. Chief Grant has several ideas of which he spoke to the writer. 
One is that there is no necessity for an outlay of money on any more hose 
houses at present, but that what the city needs are automobile hose wagons 
and chemicals combined. He has visited several cities and has seen the 
rapidity with which fires can be reached with means of this kind, and now 
that the automobile is being so generally used in almost every line of busi- 
ness, and not only by the man who uses it for his own pleasure but for the 
business man who uses it for fast and heavy work, it may be only a short 
time until the fire horse which so long has been the pride of Evansville 
may be relegated to the past and all of the fire work will be done by auto- 

Again speaking of the fire horses, and the writer must admit that he 
always had a warm place in his heart for them, for surely they are the 
most intelligent and lovable animals and are the pets of the whole depart- 
ment, mention might be made of old Turk who was in the department for 
many years and died at the age of 21. Many of our old citizens will re- 
member the big parade in which the department took part, and how old 
Turk walked along in his regular place and seemed to enjoy it as much as 


any one who took part. There was also a gray horse which served quite 
well and faithfully. Since Chief Grant took charge, he has gone carefully 
over all the stock and found that while the majority of the horses are in 
good condition, there are many whose legs have given down and are unable 
to make the long runs. As to their spirit and will power, many of these 
grand old horses would go until they dropped, but the work on the streets 
is awful on any horse, as is well known to any man who loves a horse, and 
he has decided to dispose of quite a number. He has already taken out 
five which, though unfit for fast runs of the fire department, are amply 
able to do good work and they have been sent to the country where they 
are likely to live many a long year, and on the soft ground and with no fast 
work they will suffer no pain whatever in their legs. This is as it should 
be, and he deserves credit for this step that he has taken, for what man 
with any humanity in his heart, can see an old and faithful servant sold to 
eke out a miserable existence in some old wagon, taken away from the 
good feed and good treatment that he has always had, and compelled to end 
his life half-starved and beaten and abused. It is very probable that Chief 
Grant will apply for a change in the aerial trucks. As it now stands, the 
smaller one is virtually a light ladder wagon of very little use, while the 
heavy one is as much too heavy as the other is too light. Again, they are 
both behind the times and not up with the modem improved trucks, which 
are now in vogue in all the large cities. His idea is to outfit this department 
until it will be on a par with that of the cities of its size and larger, all 
over the country. Again, this larger ladder has to be raised by hand and it 
sometimes takes as long as two minutes to get it into position and two min- 
utes at a hot fire means a great deal. There is a compressed air ladder 
now made which will fill the bill and also one made with a spring which can 
be manipulated by one man and either of these or both are what the fire 
department now needs. 

At this writing the department consists of 80 firemen and 47 horses. 
Chief Grant thinks that it would be desirable to have a few more men, but 
in view of the present condition of the city treasury, he does not hope to 
get them just at present. He claims, however, that there should be one 
more man at each of the hose houses, as at the present time there are only 
four at the single houses, and with a lay-off it virtually causes only three 
men to be on duty four days during the week. If any more new hose 
houses are built and the city continues to progress, these changes can prob- 
ably be made without any trouble. 


It must not be assumed that the first settlers who came here were able 
to get absolute control of their little farms without some trouble. There 
seems to be an impression that in the early days of southern Indiana, the 
land had belonged to the Indians and had ben transferred for a song to 


settlers and then by some means had passed into the hands of the govern- 
ment and that all the government cared for was to get the land settled up. 
Many of the old pioneers believed this and consequently they would pick 
out some spot that struck their fancy and immediately proceed to erect an 
humble cabin and to clear up and for several years would think nothing of 
the rights of ownership, but speak of it as their farm and really believed 
that it belonged to them, when as a matter of fact, they had not paid out a 
cent for it. They came here before the land had even been surveyed, but 
it was understood among themselves even with their small knowledge of 
law, that whenever the land was surveyed and had to be paid for, they 
would stand by each other and protect each other, and the man who would 
seek by underhand means to take away a little settlement from another, 
was looked on as being little better than a horse thief. There were mean 
men, however, in those days just as there are today, who would not stop to 
take any advantage they could over their neighbors, and these fellows were 
generally blessed with enough education to be able to get the better of the 
more ignorant ones. There was one case where a man had picked out a 
nice little place, in the northern part of Vanderburg County and had made 
substantial improvements. After the land was surveyed he went to Vin- 
cennes to make the proper payment for it and to get the last $50, had sent 
his wife on a long trip to an uncle who had loaned to the couple. When 
he got to Vincennes he found that a neighbor that lived only two miles 
away, had slipped into Vincennes ahead of him and had bought the land, 
making a claim that the first party had not complied with the law, etc. 
The man returned home and told the sad news to his wife and to several 
of his neighbors and they did not hesitate to go to the fellow who had 
bought the land and tell him that he might take the land if he wanted it 
away from the poor fellow, but if he did that each time one of them passed 
the place they would stop and give him, the mean fellow, a good thrashing. 
At first he took it as a joke and hugged his mean soul over the smooth trick 
he had played, but he met with quite a surprise. He was very mean and 
his neighbors all despised him and the surprise was that in a day or two 
one of these neighbors rode up calmly, hitched his horse to the fence, 
walked up to the mean fellow who attempted to shake hands with him and 
turned and gave him a most beautiful thrashing, blackened both of his 
eyes and blooded his nose in good shape. He then informed him that he 
thought one of the neighbors would be along the next day and he might as 
well get in shape for him. It only took this one thrashing to settle this 
fellow. He went to Mncennes, squared up things and the original man 
got the farm. 

Another case was where two men each wanted a 40-acre tract that lay 
between them. One of them only had 40 acres while the other had a good 
farm of 160 acres. The man with the good farm got to Vincennes and 
had the necessary papers made out and acquired the 40 acres. The second 
man hurried to Vincennes and met the first one on the road. The first one 


showed that he was not a bad fellow at heart, for after talking the matter 
over amicably he let him have the 40 acres and loaned him the money to 
go and buy another 40 acres which lay adjoining his and which he got at 
a very low price. Thus each had a good farm and became the best 01 
friends. Their children inter-married and today their descendants are 
among some of our best citizens. 

In another place the land speculation of 1832 has been mentioned where 
an eastern syndicate got hold of a great body of land for a song. They 
imagined that they could send their representatives out here and proceed to 
take whatever land they wanted. They sent spies to examine into the lay 
of the land but they were soon spied by the farmers who in their turn sent 
their spies out. Finally a syndicate sent a number of men who were to go 
to work and take the legal steps and take possession. In the meantime, the 
farmers had put up a beautiful scheme and had dressed up as Indians with 
war paint and all the necessry things to make a first-class warrior. When 
the little band of land agents got to a certain place they were surprised 
to see Indians coming from every direction with blood curdling war whoops. 
The spy that the farmers had fixed immediately began to yell that they were 
all going to be murdered, and lying down on his horse, started off at a dead 
run. The blood thirsty Indians followed them, shooting blank cartridges 
and still running after them until they threw such a scare into them that it 
was said afterwards that some of them ran clear into Terre Haute. Un- 
fortunately this trick was not known except to the farmers who took part 
and news of an awful bloodthirsty Indian raid soon spread all over the 
country. The governor at Indianapolis called out the militia and soon word 
was sent all over the state to repair old forts and build new block houses, 
and a perfect reign of terror existed for a while, but as the Indians com- 
pletely vanished from sight, the scare soon died out and became a thing of 
the past. 

There was one little funny incident. A farmer who was out in the 
woods and who had a wife and seven children saw these Indians and at 
once lit out for home where he rapidly told his wife to get the children and 
light out, as there were a thousand Indians coming there and they would 
not only kill and scalp them both, but all of the children. But his wife had 
been raised on the Kentucky side of the Ohio and was well used to false 
alarms about Indians, so when her husband brought the horse and cart to 
the door to tumble in the children and what things they could hastily get 
together, she simply asked him to leave the gun and the ammunition with 
her and that she did not propose to give up her home for any Indian that 
ever lived and that the first one she saw prowling around there would get 
a bullet right through the head. The husband, however, still had a yellow- 
streak and bid her an affectionate good-bye, telling her that he would never 
see her again alive, and that if it was not for the children he would stay 
and fight with her. He immediately left and was gone for two days, during 


which it is needless to say that he never saw or heard of an Indian. He 
then started back home and the story goes that he found his wife sitting 
by a Httle spinning wheel busy making thread, while with one foot she was 
rocking the baby which was sound asleep. Looking around the house the 
brave man saw a fine fat gobbler all dressed and ready for roasting and on 
the wall hung a big coon skin. He said, "Mandy, what in thunderation 
have you been using my powder for?" "Never mind, Ebenizer, there is 
plenty left. If you hear of an Indian crossing the Mississippi you won't 
need it, because next time you will go clear out of the country." 

To show further the bravery of the women of those days, down close 
to the Ohio river near here, lived a very quiet and inoffensive man who had 
a wife and two children. It is supposed that a party of men wanted to get 
hold of his little farm, for he surely had never done anything to injure any- 
body and did not know that he had an enemy on earth. One morning he 
found a bundle of switches at the door. This meant, in the old times, "Get 
out or you will be whipped." But he paid no attention to it and a few 
days afterwards he found another bundle and with it a crude note, telling 
him that he had better leave, as they did not want him there. He hardly 
knew what to do, so as the notice spoke of him only and gave him a certain 
time to leave, he was very badly worried. But his wife said that the best 
thing for him to do was to go back to his old home in Ohio and she would 
stay there, as certainly no man in that section would be low and mean 
enough to attach a defenseless woman. As soon as he reached his home 
he sent his wife's sister to live with her. The day before the time limit 
and after the husband had been some time in Ohio, still another bundle of 
switches was found at the door and a note threatening to switch and tar 
and feather the two women if they did not leave by a certain time. They 
decided, however, to make a fight for it. They had a large and vicious dog 
that they kept in the house at night and they loaded up a big musket with 
slugs and kept it on the table and fastened the door. When the last night 
came that had been stated in the notice, a loud knock was heard. The 
women told whoever was there to get away, saying that if they came into 
the house that they would regret it. There were seven or eight men in 
the party and they took a heavy rail and soon broke in the door. When 
it fell, the woman was there with the musket and as the men tried to rush 
in, it was discharged right in their faces. There were loud cries of pain 
and two men were seen carried away and soon the clatter of horses' feet 
was heard on the road and there was no more trouble. The strange thing was 
that two very prominent men were missing out of the section and the word 
was given out that they had gone down the river to live, for they never re- 
turned. The man came back from Ohio and was never again molested. 
He raised a large family of children who were as good and honest as their 
parents and today the descendants of this very couple who were so threat- 
ened, own a great amount of territory near where the affair occurred. 



If Evansville is proud of her fire department, she is no less proud of 
her police, for in no city in this country is there a more thorough system 
by which each man on the force understands fully his duty and knows tliat 
he must perform that duty or he will be brought before the Board of 
Safety on charges and no matter what the standing or political pull, he will 
be released at once, and in the detective department this city has been par- 
ticularly blessed and it is a fact disputed by none, that among the worst 
criminals in the United States today, the word has always been passed 
around, "Keep away from Evansville. It is a bad place to go and do any 
dirt. They 'pinch' you there, before you have a chance to do anything." 
This is not strange when we take into consideration the fact that the de- 
tective force especially, and a great majority of the policemen, have been 
selected from men who have grown up in Evansville, knows every shady 
character and his reputation and also can detect any stranger who comes 
here and at the least suspicious action on his part, quietly look into his 
history and, if necessary, arrest him on some trivial charge and hold him 
until they can get into connection with larger cities. There is case after 
case where desperate criminals have come to Evansville, taking it for a 
"jay" town in their way of speaking and only to find themselves suddenly 
behind the bars. 

Again, escapes have been very few. In fact, they can be counted on 
one's finger ends, and many hardened criminals are now serving time as the 
result of his having taken Evansville as an easy mark. Of course this sit- 
uation is the result of long care and forethought on the part of those who 
have managed the force. The introduction of the Bertillon system was a 
great step in the right direction and it is now used on every criminal who 
is deemed to be of sufficient importance to merit a measurement. By way 
of introduction I give the following brief anecdote : 

Some years ago a series of small crimes were committed in the lower 
part of the city. They were not of sufficient magnitude to lead the officers 
to suppose that the men operating were anything but what might be termed 
minor criminals, but by some chance a conversation between three men 
was heard and they were arrested just after robbing the till of a bar room. 
They were brought to headquarters and the examination showed that one 
of them had about as fiendish a countenance as ever was put on a human 
being. I was with the present chief, Geo. L. Covey, when he went to the 
cell door to interview this man and it was astonishing to notice how very 
sleepy he was. He could barely find time to answer the most trivial ques- 
tions, but was continually stretching and yawning and treated the matter 
of questioning as something that was depriving him of his natural sleep. 
Mr. Covey asked him wh^t made him so particular with his sleep and he 
stated that he had walked down the railroad from Vincennes the night 
before. Asked where he had slept the night before, he said that he had no 


money and had slept at the Vincennes police station. Covey soon had him 
all tangled up in a mass of lies, as the man had plenty of money in his pos- 
session and his shoes did not show that he had made any long tramps. 
These things of course did not escape Covey's keen eye. 

The next man in the party was a bald-headed, very heavily built little 
German who at once could not understand anything. He absolutely did 
not know a word of English, did not know the other men, had never seen 
them before, etc., etc. Covey, knowing that he was one of the three who 
had been talking in English, set him down as liar Xo. 2. 

The third man was an Irishman who gave Mr. Covey a most beautiful 
line of talk. He was a plumber by trade and had come to Evansville seeking 
work and of course had never seen either of the other two men. For some 
reason it was decided that a pretty high-class gang had been captured and 
it was decided to take their photographs and add them to the Bertillon 
measurement. The late Tom Hutchins was to take the villianous looking 
fellow down to the photograph gallery. No sooner was he placed in the 
chair than he began to put his face into all kinds of shapes. He jumped 
out of the chair and rolled with Hutchins on the floor. Hutchins and his 
assistant knew at once that he was a dangerous character or he would not 
object to such a little thing as a photograph. Finally he was forced back 
into the chair where he drew up his face again and when Hutchins put his 
hand over his face to smooth it out, he bit at his fingers and then and there 
Hutchins did exactly the right thing. He banged that villian about four 
times just as hard as he could, right in the face and then grabbing him by 
the ears he held him right in position until the photograph was taken. If 
looks could have killed Hutchins he would have died right there. 

Finally they got him back to police headquarters, he vowing all along 
that he would get even. Of all the criminals that I have ever seen, I never 
saw such a face as this man had. They were removed to the county jail 
and in the meantime the wires were put in motion and it was found that 
they belonged to a desperate gang of burglars. The hero of the photograph 
was the worst of the gang and was suspected of having killed several men. 
They were placed in a county jail and by some means, managed to escape, 
though the Irishman who had been shot when they were captured, up to the 
very last had limped as if it was almost impossible to place his foot on the 
ground, but it seems it was no trouble for him to crawl up through some 
disarranged plumbing and thence on to the county jail roof and thertce down 
a pipe to the ground. Although there was snow on the ground and they 
were traced a short distance out on the String Town road, they disappeared 
as completely as if the earth had swallowed them up. Telegrams were sent 
in every direction but they were shrewd enough to get away and were 
never heard of again, until after a series of desperate burglaries in Cin- 
cinnati, where two men were shot and they proved to be the Irishman and 
the Dutchman, but of the ring leader nothing has ever been heard. He 
probably met his just deserts long ago. 


This is about the only important escape that ever occurred and it must 
be remembered that it occurred after the pohce had turned the arrested 
parties over to the county. Another incident : 

During a circus here several years ago, a well-known gentleman of the 
city was robbed of a beautiful diamond stud while coming down town on 
a street car. He did not see the man who took it and therefore could give 
no description at all. But so strong was the net thrown out that in a few 
hours every hangeron of the circus was in its meshes and on the promise to 
the crowd that there would be prosecution if the stud was returned at once, 
it was forthcoming. In almost any other city it would have been gone for- 
ever. Our police have case after case o fthis kind to their credit. Give 
them any kind of a clue and they seem to be able to follow it right up and 
nab the suspected ones. I do not claim that they are any smarter than the 
police of any other city, but they simply have some means of quickly ar- 
riving at conclusions and then they never stop until they make their record. 
Until the city charter was given and for many years after that time, there 
was really no police force here. We had a city marshal and constables 
who served under him and they were supposed to afTord ample protection. 
From 1857 to 1863 Ed Martin, sometimes called one-eyed Ed, on account 
of the loss of one eye, was city marshal, and a good one. He was a keen 
reader of human nature and absolutely fearless, and discharged his duties 
well. In 1863 two policemen were appointed — Philip Klein, who served 
so long in different departments, and Geo. Bates, and later on four others 
were added to the force. But still there was no chief of police, as the 
mayor acted as such. He had no regular beat lay-outs but elected these 
forces to take in certain parts of the city night after night. In 1865 when 
Mr. Klein had been elected wharfmaster he was called on by the mayor and 
council to act as police captain and the force was increased to sixteen men. 
At this time occurred the hanging of the two negroes to the court house 
lamp, of which mention is made in the other part of this book and on that 
night there was a perfect era of riots in the city and inofifensive colored 
people were chased out of their homes and took refuge, most of them, in the 
hills below the city. It was never known whether both of these men were 
guilty or not. It had been claimed that one of them was not really a par- 
ticipant in the heinous crime committed but he was in bad company and 
suffered for it. In 1867 Philip Klein was elected marshal but still retained 
his position as police captain. In 1868 Ed. Martin succeeded him and he 
in turn was succeeded in 1869 by Christian Wunderlich. By this time the 
city had grown and it was decided that a better system of police service 
must be gotten up. This matter was entrusted to the council. They made 
Philip Klein again chief and increased the force to twenty-two men. The 
city soon went democratic and Henry Harris became chief. After him 
came a republican, Mr. Roesner, and his place was filled by Joseph Aft. 
This crude system was kept up until 1884 when the Metropolitan police sys- 
tem was adopted. This provides for the appointment of three police com- 


missioners who are supposed to appoint the policemen in equal numbers from 
the two political parties, thus making the force as nearly even as possible. 
The first commissioners were Dr. M. Muhlhausen, Edward E. Law and Gus 
Lemke. After Alex. Foster and Edward Goeke were appointed, with F. 
Dough Martin, a negro, as secretary. Under the Metropolitan system Frank 
Pritchett was the first police chief appointed. After him Geo. W. Newitt. 
Up to that time the force consisted of forty men, and the captains were 
Charles Wunderlich and Frederick Brennecke. Mr. Brennecke has served 
on the department twenty-two years and nine months. Mr. Pritchett was 
again appointed chief during the Akin administration and resigned in favor 
of King Cobbs, who served for two years while the democrats were in 
power. Fred Heuke was chief and Geo. L. Covey who had been on the 
force in one capacity or another for twenty-six years. After him Fred H. 
Brennecke became chief, he having been chief of detectives during the 
Hawkin's administration. Mr. Covey was first appointed chief in 1892 
under Hawkin and served under him and Mayor Covert. He is at present 
in his old position of chief which he fills in a splendid manner. It can be 
said to Mr. Covey's credit that he is a man who has absolute control of 
himself at all times. He never loses his temper and while examining an 
arrested man his tone is always the same. No matter how violent the man 
may become, or what he may say, he meets the same quiet questioning by 
the chief. Since Chief Covey has taken hold, there has been a change in 
what is known as "pulling the boxes." For some time one of the rules 
was that the boxes on a man's beat must be pulled each hour, thus showing 
that he was wide awake and on duty, but Chief Covey took a common 
sense view of this matter and made a change. In conversation with him 
he said, "These boxes are always at the extreme ends of a patrolman's 
beat and where he is expected to pull them both each hour, it means that 
he will naturally take the shortest route between the two and pull them, 
so as to gain the reputation for promptness and reliability. This very nat- 
urally leaves the rest of his beat unguarded and it is a fact that those who 
wished to commit crime and knew of these usual visits of the patrolmen, 
could easily watch him and see when he was starting on his regular trip 
and then commit their depredations in a part of the beat that he left un- 
guarded. As it is now, the boxes are only pulled three times before 11 
o'clock and after that only at such times as the officer happens to.pass the 
boxes." The chief trusts to the fact that if a patrolman so far forgets 
himself as to neglect the duty, it will soon be found out anyhow and he will 
be brought up before the Board of Safety and discharged and he deems it 
better to take these chances than to force the men to make their regular 
pulls as heretofore. There are at present eighty-one men on the force. 
For some years Mrs. Mary Roberts has been police matron. Under her 
care come all the women who are arrested and her record is indeed a splen- 
did one. She is, if anything, too good hearted for the position, but she tem- 
pers kindness with justice and having been in the position for many long 


years, is a great help to the officers. It is safe to say that no matter what 
political changes may come, Mrs. Roberts can hold this position as long as 
she chooses. 

As with the firemen, the police have pension and at present they have 
some $8,CKX) surplus which is put out at interest. This is a splendid idea 
and will be a great help to many an officer when old age comes on him and 
he finds himself no longer able to walk his beat. Some of the men on the 
forces have been there for many years and a peculiar fact is that they are 
not a rough kind of men, but the men who exercise judgment. The merit 
of the policeman is not gauged by the number of arrests that he makes in 
these days. There is such a thing as a useless arrest which is simply a 
hampering of the wheels of justice. Back in the old days before the police 
recognized that good judgment and a little mercy were sometimes a good 
thing, some of the policemen were inclined to imagine that they wore 
crowns and never hesitated to show them. A case comes to my mind. 
One night there was a party of about six young men, who were walking 
together and two of them got into a friendly skuffle. There was not a bit 
of bad blood between them. They were just active young fellows who felt 
like wrestling, and across from the Acme hotel they proceeded to see which 
one could throw the other. One of them succeeded and they had gotten up 
and shaken hands and were freshening up their clothes, when up came a 
superanuated policeman who really had no business on the force and who 
wanted to know what was the matter. He was told that there was nothing 
the matter at all, when he replied that he seen skuffling and he wanted to 
know what it was about. The entire party tried to pacify him and told 
him that there had been no blood shed and the dignity of the city had not 
been outraged. He was about pacified when up came a superior officer who 
had been in the army a short time and imagined that he put down the re- 
bellion and had the big head so badly that there was hardly a hat in the de- 
partment large enough to fit him. He at once got into action and wanted 
to know why somebody was not arrested. He was told the same story as 
the other one, but would not listen to anything and remarked, "For two 

cents I would arrest the whole d crowd." A gentlemen who had never 

been arrested in his life and was an upright honorable young man in every 
sense of the word, put his hand on the policeman's shoulder and said, "You 
cannot arrest anybody here, for no one has done anything." At this the 
Dutchman flew clear oflf the handle and said, "Well, I will just arrest you. 
You come along with me," and snatched at the gentleman's arm. Indig- 
nantly the gentleman jerked up and said, "You have no right to pull we 
along like a common criminal. I will walk to headquarters with you.'' 
Once there word was sent to the mayor who immediately replied, "Turn 
them all loose and let them appear in the morning." And now to show yoi'. 
how strangely things worked in those days, the very officious officer, the 
Dutchman and another patrolman who had not been seen there at all, all 
swore that the inoflfensive man who had taken no part in the matter at 


all, had the first man up against the fence choking, etc., etc., and that his 
yells for help had brought him to the scene. When the judge who hap- 
pened to be Judge Menifee, asked the gentleman what he had to say for 
himself, he simply remarked, "Just put me down for whatever you see fit. 
I would not waste time telling my story against such liars as you have 
here. That Dutchman and these two others." Of course the superior of- 
ficer at once tried to fly into a rage again, but he was called down by the 
mayor. He lasted about two months and the next seen of him he was 
driving a wagon of some kind. So much for pomposity. It is a bad thing 
at times. Another thing about the force is that through the efforts of some 
of the officers, they are well-drilled and can execute many very beautiful 
and complicated maneuvers and there is hardly a parade of any kind in the 
city for which they are not called on to take part, and they always reflect 
credit on themselves. 


Within a very few years, Evansville will be known as the City of Parks. 
Steps are being taken in the right direction to make this name a matter of 
absolute correctness. While it is to be regretted that for so many long years 
our people seemed to fail to understand how necessary parks were to a 
city, it is all the more pleasant to know now, that the pressure that has 
been continually brought to bear on the public by men who looked ahead 
beyond the present day, is producing results. Soon there will be plenty of 
breathing spots in every direction. Today the most important park in the 
city is Sunset park, which offers almost unlimited possibilities. Many re- 
member it as a little straggling piece of the river bank with an old sycamore 
tree, the roots of which extended over the top of the bank, with a lot of 
fishing boats and other boats full of the lowest class of people, with posts 
driven into the ground where coal barges and steamboats fastened as they 
pleased and when they even made fast to the old sycamore if they cared. 
The easiest way to realize how much has been done is to notice where the 
old sycamore now stands, clear this side of the center of the park. How 
hard it is to realize that all that solid earth extending from the street to the 
river has been filled in load by load with the refuse of the city ash heaps 
and the soil caused by the making of streets placed on top ! 

The first agitation on the subject of changing this into a park began in 
1879. It was afterwards taken up by the editor of the Evening Tribune. 
A petition was circulated and a band stand was built and two rival bands 
agreed to play there on separate nights. It was after these bands began, that 
thousands of people commenced going to the park on band evenings, and 
the public at last woke up and seemed to realize that here was a lovely 
spot being fast washed away, simply because they were either too igno- 
rant or too lazy to take care of it. The subject of making a park soon be- 
gan to take root. Friends of the park that were interested, went before the 
council, men paid money out of their own pockets to drivers to get them 


to dump over the bank, but even then the city, which yearly threw away 
thousands of dollars for foolish positions to men who put in about an hour 
a day of actual work, could not see its way clear to hire even one man to 
place the dirt in position as it was hauled there. Time after time those in- 
terested in the movement almost lost heart. It seemed as if we had city 
officials who cared absolutely nothing for the appearance of the city, but 
the change came at last and by the aid of one most estimable lady who pos- 
sessed both money and influence, a new lease on life was taken. It soon 
became a common thing for the council in letting out contracts for street 
improving, to use the excess dirt to be hauled to Sunset park. Prior to that 
time, this dirt was claimed by the city or the teamsters and the man who 
really owned the dirt — ^that is the man in front of whose property it lay — 
had very little to say, and it had been given away to anybody who wanted 
it. The condition of affairs was very lax, and it was when this movement 
began that the friends of the park put in their best work. They would go 
to a man who had, say lOO feet frontage on a street to be improved, and 
ask him for the dirt, if he did not care for it. Invariably he would donate 
it. Then they would ask him to give them the power to state where he 
wished the dirt hauled, and of course it was hauled to Sunset park. From 
that time to the present, the city has always kept men there to place all 
ashes and refuse of that kind in certain places while the broken brick and 
stone taken from walks and streets that had been condemned, were all 
placed on the outside so that gradually a strong sea wall is being built. 
It was thought at one time that James A. Hemenway would see to it that 
a stone sea wall was built but like many other political promises, this was 
a promise for the time being and never fulfilled. The chances are now 
that the government which has appropriated so much for locks and dams, 
will never build a sea wall and if any is built, it will have to be done by the 

With the tearing down of the old water works and the purchase of the 
old E. Q. Smith dwelling, a great new park was added to the old one. This 
reaches to Chandler avenue. Both at this point, and this side of the water 
works, the city owns still more property and the proposition now seems 
to be to build a boulevard and open up a road reaching along a sea wall from 
the foot of Locust street clear to the water works. While this is being writ- 
ten, the subject of tearing down the old Barnes property is being consid- 
ered by the council. If the building is modernized and painted white with 
great porches extending around three sides, it can be made very beau- 
tiful, but if any attempt is made to leave it in its present condition with 
sundry repairs, the park would be far better off with the building torn 
down and taken away. In that case, there would be an uninterrupted view 
from Chandler to Locust street. The subject of trees in this park was 
quite a vital one. At first "a large number of Carolina poplars were planted 
but it was found that while they were of very rapid growth and soon made 
a beautiful shade all over the park proper, in a very strong windstorm they 


were liable to be snapped off, sometimes close to the ground and some- 
times in the very center of the tree. To provide for the future and at the 
same time give plenty of shade during the present, a large number of very 
strong young trees of slow growth but able to stand any kind of a storm, 
were interspersed all over the park. This was the work and forethought 
of Mr. W. H. McCurdy. Nearly all of these trees are now living and as 
fast as they die, they are replaced, so that for all time to come we may 
look for delightful shade in the now modernized Sunset park. It was un- 
derstood that just in the rear of where the E. Q. Smith residence stood, 
there is to be an artificial lake. This is eminently proper, for it could be 
made a perfect garden of lilies and would add much to the beauty of the 
park. There is a space further up which might be utilized in the same way. 

The oldest park in the city is Cook's park which has been referred to in 
another part of this book. It was formerly the old Salt well, not being dig- 
nified by the name of park. Many years ago it was purchased by Hon. 
Fred W. Cook, who at once put up a beautiful club house and theater and 
transformed it into quite a modern affair. He also had an artificial lake 
built. The place today is beautiful, as it contains the old trees that were 
there when Evansville was first founded. The ground is rolling and it is 
indeed a beautiful spot. Whether it will be retained as a park or sold to 
make room for growing Evansville is unknown, but it seems to be an 
accepted fact that as a money investment, it has never been a profitable 

Another park in the lower part of the city is the Franklin Street park, 
which reaches from Franklin to Illinois and from Wabash to lOth avenue. 
This was formerly the unsightly resting place of great stacks of lumber. 
For some time there seemed to be a doubt as to whom the land really be- 
longed, but that was finally settled and it is now filled with beautiful trees 
and is a delightful rest for the toilers of the West End during the summer 

John Law park is where the first brick school house in Lamasco stood. 
It was in the middle of an open common, as nearly as I remember, but after 
it was acquired by the city, the building was torn down and it was named 
in honor of Judge John Law, one of our pioneer statesmen, whose resi- 
dence was very near it. It runs from Fulton avenue to Fourth ayenue and 
from Franklin to Michigan street. 

A most beautiful park is Bayard park, running from Igleheart avenue 
to Powell avenue and from Kentucky avenue to Bedford avenue. This 
was a gift to the city from that most estimable lady, Mrs. Mattie Bayard, 
and it will remain forever as a monument to one of the best women who 
ever claimed Evansville as her home. The trees in this park are also the 
old original growth which stood there when the writer was a boy. There 
has been no particular attempt to beautify this park in the matter of flowers, 
but the trees are enough to make it beautiful forever. 


Fourth street park is a little park on Fourth street between Cherry and 
Oak. When the town was laid out, it was arranged that this should be a 
continuation of the market space but it was never used for that purpose, as 
the ground between Chestnut street and Locust was fully ample for all de- 
mands. This little park was planted with trees and a fountain placed in the 
center but through city neglect it was allowed to go down. Hoodlum boys 
took delight in destroying the best trees in it, stopping up the fountain and 
indulging in all sorts of acts of that kind. It was almost impossible to have 
them arrested for this vandalism and I am happy to say that there were some 
citizens who were not afraid to take the law into their own hands, and many 
a young hoodlum found himself caught by the collar and soundly thrashed 
by some one who lived near there and the word was given to him that if 
he did not like it, he had better go home and tell his father and get his father 
to come back with him, when he would also receive what the boy did not get, 
if necessary, and to the best of my recollection, no father ever came. After- 
wards the ruined trees were reset and the park, while of small extent, is 
really a beautiful little place. 'Almost the same history can be given of the 
Seventh street park, a little spot that by some means was left out when 
the city was laid off. It is on Seventh street between Walnut and Chestnut. 
At one time the custodian of this park, who was a custodian only in name, 
(as he had no police power), stated to the writer that they had no hope of 
ever making it a park because the boys were too bad, but he afterwards 
was elected to the position of councilman and as he lived there by the park, 
there was a very sudden stopping of hoodlumism around that part and it 
has since been constantly improving. 

Mesker's park, a beautiful spot capable of great possibilties, lies on St. 
Joseph avenue, one mile north of West Maryland street. This was presented 
to the city by Geo. L. Mesker. It will not be long until the city will take 
hold of this and transform it into a beautiful spot. Oak Summit park lies 
just across from it and is the property of the Street Railway Company. 
It was during the administration of Mr. Herbert D. Aloran that he saw 
that what people needed during the summer was a chance to get on the 
cars and ride to some stopping place on the hills where they could breathe 
good, cool evening air for a time and be amused before returning to the 
heat of the city for the night. To him is due the credit for the purchase 
of this beautiful spot which will be constantly improved. It is a valuable 
piece of property and will grow more and more valuable with every year. 

The only other park is the West Heights Cave park which is on the 
New Harmony road, three-quarters of a mile north of West Maryland 
street. This belongs to private parties and they are gradually improving 
it and its location is everything that could be desired. 

But the one park which is now a matter of great discussion is what is 
known as Garvin's Grove. This place of some sixty acres, lies at the end 
of Main street. In fact. Main street terminates at the park. For many 
years this has been the property of Honorable Thomas E. Garvin, one of 


our oldest citizens. At various times in the past he has offered to sell 
this park to the city but has never been able to secure what he deemed the 
proper price for it. Some 15 years ago it was offered at $1,000 per acre 
and there was some talk of buying it, but it died out. Just at present there 
seems to be a deal on between Mr. Garvin and the city but whether or not 
it will materialize remains to be seen. There are many beautiful trees in 
this park and about the only objection to it is that the back part is flooded 
during high water by Pigeon creek, but this could be remedied by building 
a wall and filling up the low places where necessary. The land thus taken 
out would leave what might be turned into a large artificial lake. All over 
the country these lakes are being made in parks that have existed for years 
and there certainly could be no objection to a large one at this point. Where 
the government is so willing to stock lakes at all times with game fish there 
would be no trouble in filling it soon with thousands of black bass and it 
would be a splendid fishing resort for those who like to fish a day or two 
of a season but cannot afford to take long trips away. If thought best, a 
small sum could be charged each one who fished and this could go to the 
keeping up of the park and it would be astonishing to the city fathers, to 
see how willingly hundreds of our population would be willing to pay for 
a little enjoyment. 

Another park is now being talked of but it lies across the river. This, 
however, would not prevent it from being used by our public, as from what 
has been learned, the intent of the proprietors of the new White City is to 
run a large ferry boat between our wharf and the point. Our people could 
thus not only enjoy the fresh air of the park, but a delightful ride on one 
of the most beautiful rivers in the world. It should be remembered that 
it will not be long until a uniform stage of water will exist in the river in 
front of Evansville and it will then be more appreciated by our citizens 
than it has ever been in the past, as so many have been afraid of the 
treacherous currents and the sandbars that are continually forming. 

Parks are the great breathing places for the toilers. The citizen who 
has accumulated wealth can have his own beautiful yard or a shady back 
yard kept scrupulously clean, where he and his family can go at any time, 
but the poor toiler too often has to spend his hot summer evenings trying 
to get a breath of air in front of his home, which may be only one of a long 
line of tenament cottages. Let the man of wealth go down from his front 
porch or walk out of his front yard and sit for a little while at the edge of 
an asphalt street on a brick or artificial stone sidewalk and feel the hot, 
evil-smelling air rise up into his face and he can then realize what it means 
to these poor people to have plenty of parks. 

As stated in the beginning of this chapter, it seemed to take a long time 
for Evansville to wake up on the park question, but now that most of the 
old fogies who opposed anything of this kind, have either gone to their 
reward or are too old to make speeches, it is safe to say that the progressive 
citizens of Evansville will see to it that we have plenty of breathing spots 
for the poor. 







From the time that Evansville became a town of any size it has always 
been noted for and has been quoted as being one of the most hospitable 
cities in the United States. The very early settlers were really from south- 
ern states, as Virginia and North Carolina seemed to have been the birth- 
places of their progenitors. Then came some from Tennessee and while I 
do not claim that the fact that they came from the south had very much 
efTect at that time, I think that they were a more warm-hearted people 
taken as a whole, than if they had all come from die cold Xew England 
states, which at that time had hardly gotten over early puritanism. Be 
this as it may, it is a fact that the stranger was always welcomed in Evans- 
ville with open arms. As the years passed on, it became more and more 
spoken of all over the country as the place where the stranger was made 
to feel perfectly at home, as soon as he or she reached here. Along in the 
'50s and '60s, when social affairs began to be common, Evansville was 
visited by a great many strangers and they were at once taken up and 
treated with so much courtesy that it became an old saying, "If you visit 
Evansville once, you will always want to go back again." 

In the early days of the social clubs it was the rule adhered to most 
strictly by every one of the male members, that no visiting young lady 
should ever fail to have company to attend anj'thing that might be going 
on. In fact, these things were fully arranged some time before the affair 
would come off. It was no unusual thing for a young lady to receive sev- 
eral invitations to any one affair. She was never forgotten and if the 
affair was a dance, the young men vied with each other in seeing that her 
card was filled first. The home girls could wait and such was their idea of 
perfect hospitality that they would willingly become wallflowers for the 
time being, in order that some stranger might receive proper attention. 
It was the same way with the older people. There was no hesitation in 
making calls. Let it be known that a family were good people, and by this 
I do not mean that it was necessary for them to be rich, and they were 
speedily called on by all the neighbors and entertained in such a manner as 



to soon make them feel perfectly at home. This was not done for effect or 
with the feeling that anything might be gained by it. It was just the out- 
pouring of the genial hospitality of Evansville people, which seemed born 
in them. It is no more than right to dwell on this subject, because the old 
citizens prided themselves so greatly on the fact that Evansville richly 
deserved the good name that had been bestowed upon it. 

Just before and after the war we received a large influx of southern 
people. They brought with them the good old idea of southern hospitality 
which had been imbued in them and had been a part of their social educa- 
tion. After the war there were many traveling men, fine manly young fel- 
lows, who came here and at once became a part of our society. So many 
old families have come here that through inter-marriage and through their 
taking such an active part in our local affairs, Evansville today can almost 
be called a Southern city. With no desire to single out any particular ones, 
I might speak of Judge Azro Dyer and Dr. C. P. Bacon, who both came 
from Kentucky and who have been very prominent here in many ways. 
W. F. Nisbet and Fred and E. G. Ragon, at one time among the very best 
of our wholesale merchants, were from Kentucky. The late A. G. Torian 
and W. W. Ireland and Mr. Dickey of the old firm of Ragon, Dickey & 
Carson, and Captain Carson himself, though many supposed him to be a 
northern man. Dr. P. Y. McCoy is a native Kentuckian, while Mr. Wiley 
D. Hinkle and his brother, who formerly resided here, came from Tennes- 
see. Judge Wood was from Alabama. And who does not remember the 
genial Mathew Lyon, whom everybody called "Matt" Lyon, one of the 
most polished and genial men who was ever in business in Evansville. His 
son-in-law, Mr. J. R. Furgeson, came from Mississippi. Rev. W. J. Darby 
is from Tennessee, while Geo. L. Dixon, Dr. Geo. P. Cosby and the late 
Dr. Rose were from our sister state of Kentucky. Kentucky also sent 
three young men who each made names here. They were three brothers — 
Dr. A. M. Owen, Dr. John E. Owen, and Frank A. Owen, who I now be- 
lieve lives in the south. Dr. Ed. Linthicum is a native Kentuckian and N. 
M. Booth, the father of telegraphy in Evansville, also came from that 
state. Mr. John Hubbard, who for so many years has been in the seed busi- 
ness here, is a native Kentuckian, as was Mr. E. C. Roach who lost his 
life in the Belmont catastrophe. Henry D. Posey, who while a farmer by 
profession, has many interests here, is also from our sister state. D. C. 
Givens, one of the very brightest lawyers in Evansville, is from Tennessee 
and Col. "Billie" Thomas, who every body knows and loves for his great 
kind heart, is a native Virginian. D. Machen and Chit Lyon, who at one 
time composed one of the most pushing firms in Evansville, were both from 
Kentucky. And the genial and dashing Col. Bob Martin, who for years 
was in the tobacco business here, was a southerner, and what was my sur- 
prise on having a little talk with Mr. Harry Ogden, a leading banker, to 
find that his father, Billy Ogden, was one of my oldtime drummer friends 
with whom I had made many a trip. Most of these whom I have men- 


tioned came here in the early day, and their sons and daughters have mar- 
ried and inter-married with out people and it is but just to say that there 
could be no union between the people of southern Indiana and those of 
Kentucky that would not produce descendants to whom the word hospital- 
ity means so much. 

It is well for our citizens to recognize that Evansville's reputation in 
this particular is one of her great assets. We hear so often of those who 
leave here, on whom fortune seems not to smile, who go to seek something 
better in other cities. But they invariably return and this is so much the 
case that it is a matter of common knowledge to everybody. Those who 
come back into the fold usually say, "I don't like such and such a place. 
The people are cold. I could not get acquainted with anybody so I have 
come back where I know the people care something about me and I am 
going to stay here the rest of my life even if I don't make as much money." 
Many people have moved away from Evansville for the time being, but it 
is safe to say that 90 per cent of them returned here to live. In fact, those 
who have not returned were nearly all of the transitory class whose busi- 
ness takes them into various parts of the United States, such as is the 
case of railroad men and who therefore really have no place that might 
be called home. And to the credit of Evansville let it be said that there 
is very little of what is termed "shoddyism" here. There is no Blue Book 
and while there are social distinctions, any man or woman who comes here 
with an untainted name, will be received by good people no matter whether 
they have means or not. It is a fact that in a great many places it is pos- 
sible for a family to live for years next to another, neither having anything 
to do with the other. The argument is sometimes used that this is a nice 
way to live because no one prys into your affairs. However, it would 
strike the average person, especially one bred in this section of the coun- 
try, as a very lonesome way of getting along. It is this fact noted above, 
that has been so often quoted by the people who move away from here and 
then come back. People naturally love society. A family cooped up by 
themselves in a house soon grow weary of the monotonous life they must 
lead, and the desire to have a little knot of friends is almost universal. 
All over Evansville are clubs of one kind or another which people of various 
tastes attend, and where they meet those of similar tastes. In fact, hardly 
any city of the size of Evansville has so many clubs of this kind and they 
range from little card clubs where evenings are devoted to cards and other 
enjoyments, up to the meetings where topics of great depth are discussed 
and where an attendance is almost an education. And it is this wide range 
of clubs and societies, among which latter might be mentioned societies 
that belong to almost every church, that make it possible for strangers to 
come here and in a very few days feel as if they were among friends. 

Miss Anna Runcie, who is one of the best society editresses in the 
West, contributed a paper on this subject to the Courier recently. She 
says: "Evansville society has passed through many phases of development 


since its primitive state in 1845, yet in all its essential elements it is still 
marked by the same distinctive features as at that early period. 

"Crude and unformed as was the social organism of that day, yet it was 
then as now imbued with the true spirit of hospitality which regards society 
as the social enjoyment of one's friends, rather than the mere business of 
returning social obligations, into which much of social life elsewhere has 

"Many have been the transformations of Evansville social life since that 
early date in 1836 when the first formal written invitation was sent out by 
an Evansville hostess, whose frequent entertainments have since become a 
part of its valued traditions. 

"One of these invitations, yellow with age, an interesting memento of 
that time, has been preserved in the family of the lady by whom it was 
received, Miss Mary Willson, afterwards Mrs. William Reilly. 

" It was an evening party that inaugurated in Evansville the elusive some- 
thing called society, for the day of the 'social function' and the afternoon 
tea were as yet far distant, and a social affair without the presence of 
gentlemen was unthought of. 

" 'There were always plenty of men in those days,' said a granddame 
lof today, Mrs. Crawford Bell, who as Miss Mary Negley had been a belle 
and beauty of that early time. 'We should not have thought it a party at 
all, where there were no men,' she said with fine scorn for those one-sided 
afternoon teas where men are not expected. 'If we had been invited to an 
affair where men were omitted we should not have cared to go, for what 
society could there be worth the name with only women?' 

"Did you dance in those days?" was asked. 

" 'Of course we danced,' she quickly replied. 'We always danced. Our 
parents did not always approve, when they were of the stricter sort, but 
there was little else for young people to do in the way of entertainment. 
Cards were not played then in a social way as they are now and everyone in 
society could dance, so everyone did dance.' 

"Popular places for dancing in those days, it is said, were the old 
Exchange Hotel on First and Vine streets, and Marble hall, still standing 
on Main street between Water and First, and there and elsewhere dancing 
in season and out of season was the popular pastime whenever young 
people came together. 

"It was at the Exchange Hotel, the earliest Evansville hostelry, that there 
took place the famous Carpenter ball, given by Hon. Willard Carpenter to 
celebrate the projected building of the Straight Line railroad. 

"This fashionable event of the time was illuminated, we are told, with 
the pale light of tallow candles ; gas or even coal oil as an illuminant being 
as yet undreamed of. 

"However, the ball ranked as the most brilliant social event that had as 
yet taken place in the embryo city of Evansville and was attended by every- 
body of any social pretensions whatever. 


"Another favorite meeting place of society in early days was the old 
Sherwood house, built at an early date by Marcus Sherwood and occupying 
the present site of the Elks' club. In the parlors of this old time hotel it 
was the custom to hold many of the social affairs of the period, among 
them the church socials which were somewhat new in church and social 
lines in those days, and where strangers coming to the city to reside usu- 
ally received their introduction to the social circles of the town. 

"The fashionable center of the city at that time was below Main street, 
on First, Second and Water streets as far down as Division, where the 
early homes of many of the present day families of the upper part of the 
city were first located. 

"On the present site of the Mackey-Nisbet building was located the 
homestead of Edward Hopkins, one of the prominent citizens of the early 
Evansville and great-grandfather of the younger members of the Hopkins, 
Viele and Babcock families of today. 

"The Hopkins home was a popular social center for the young people 
of the time and around it were located the homes of other well known fam- 
ilies in the social life of the primitive Evansville, the Lewises, Carpenters, 
Ladds, Wheelers, Armstrongs, the Grifiith home at the comer of Second 
and Sycamore, occupying the present site of the Waverly building, the 
former Samuel Orr residence still standing at the corner of Second and 
\'ine streets, the residence of Dr. Bray in Upper First street near Locust, 
built nearly seventy years ago, which was the scene of many hospitalities 
and is still occupied by members of the family. 

"At the fine old Shanklin homestead, which occupied the present site 
of the St. George hotel, a notable wedding in 1856 claimed the attention of 
Evansville society when Miss Malvina French, the only daughter of Mr. 
and Mrs. John Shanklin, pioneer residents of Evansville, became the bride 
of Mr. John Maynard Harlan, then a young attorney of Frankfort, Ky., 
but widely known later as Justice of the Supreme Court of the United 

"Six bridesmaids and as many groomsmen composed the wedding 
group which was arranged as a tableau affair in rainbow effects, the gowns 
of the bridesmaids being each of a complementary tint. Among the brides- 
maids from this city were Miss Ella Lister, now Mrs. Wymond of Chi- 
cago ; Miss Mattie Orr, the late Mrs. Samuel Bayard, and Miss Lizzie Mc- 
Cutcheon of Pittsburg, now Mrs. James M. Shanklin ; Miss Laura Har- 
lan of Frankfort, Ky., the sister of the groom ; Miss Charlotte French of 
Cincinnati, and Miss Mary Jones. Among the groomsmen were Mr. James 
M. Shanklin, Mr. William Harlan, the groom's brother; Mr. Osborn Reilly, 
a popular society man of the time, and others. 

"Among the earliest homes above Main street to become prominent as 
the scene of frequent entertainment was that of John H. Maghee, later oc- 
cupied by his brother, Gillison Maghee, at the comer of Chestnut and Third 
streets. The house had been erected by Rev. Mr. Barnes for a school about 


1837, and there later taught Professor Myron Safford, whose wife and her 
sisters, the Misses Morton, were sisters of the ex-Vice-President Levi P. 
Morton of New York. 

"The former Maghee house remodeled which is now the residence of 
Dr. J. R. Mitchell, was occupied by members of the Maghee family until a 
decade or more ago. 

"As occupied successively by the brothers John and Gillison Maghee, 
prominent Evansville merchants, it was throughout its entire existence the 
scene of noted and lavish hospitalities even before the date of that first 
written invitation sent out which read, 'Mr. and Mrs. Maghee request the 
pleasure of Miss Willson's company on Tuesday evening, January fourth.' 

"It will be noted that Evansville society even at this early date had set- 
tled the matter of social precedence so long a vexed question even in New 
York between Mrs. Astor and Mrs. William Astor, as leaders of the 400, 
with or without the prefix William, to distinguish it. The Evansville card 
bears simply Mr. and Mrs. Maghee, Mr. John Maghee having been the 
elder brother. 

"In the Evansville of an early day no less than in later times, weddings 
were preeminent as social events and claimed the interest of the entire com- 

"A brilliant wedding of 1845 recalled by one of those who was a leading 
figure in the ceremony was the marriage of the beautiful Miss Mary Neg- 
ley, the youngest of the eight daughters of David Negley, a prominent citi- 
zen of the early Evansville, to Mr. Crawford Bell, also a leading business 
man of the town. 

"The wedding, which was a fashionable event of the time, took place 
at the Negley homestead which with the Negley flouring and saw mills, 
widely known throughout this section, were at that time situated on Pig- 
eon creek. 

"The primitive condition of the city lighting of the period was responsi- 
ble for a change in the date of the wedding which had been set for early in 
June. Shortly after the plans for the ceremony had been arranged some 
member of the family in consulting the almanac discovered that the date 
chosen fell in the dark of the moon. That a change of date was at once 
found necessary may be readily imagined as without the light of Luna none 
could venture abroad after nightfall, unless he carried a lantern. 

"So, instead of the June bridal that had been planned a date was chosen 
when the moon was at the full to light the wedding guests on their way. 
And so it was that the 12th of May was the wedding day. 

"Of the wedding company of that May day in 1847, few remain to 
grace the Evansville of 1910, but among them is the stately and gracious 
presence of the May bride herself, now in her eighty-sixth year. Hon. 
Thomas E. Garvin is probably the only one remaining of all that assembly 
of wedding guests. 



"Included among the attendants of the couple was the bride's sister, 
Miss Lucy Negley, afterward I\Irs. Rudd, with Mr. Brown Butler, Dr. 
Stockwell and Judge Battelle, popular figures in the society of the time. 
The house erected later by Mr. Crawford Bell for their home is now the 
Charles Babcock residence in South First street. 

"Primitive as may have been the social life of the Evansville of 1840, 
dullness at least had no part in it, and there was no lack of novelty and 
romantic adventure. 

"The dead level of monotony and the ceaseless search of the present for 
some new pastime had not yet begun. Then all was new, and by its very 
newness furnished entertainment for the participants. 

"The brave spirits and sturdy stock of the farther east, which had 
furnished the flower of its human product to people the wilds of southern 
Indiana, provided abundant variety for their own diversion without searching 

"Full of romance and romantic incident in the social traditions of the 
period of 1845 is the name and career of a brilliant and beautiful Evansville 
belle of the period, Miss Nellie Nevins Warner, the daughter of Mrs. Alan- 
son Warner by a former marriage and adopted daughter of Major Warner. 
Prominent in many lines in the Evansville of early days, as sometime 
proprietor of the Mansion house, a well known hotel then occupying the 
site of the present Orpheum theater, and as owner of the stage coach 
lines, then the only means of travel in this section. Major Alanson Warner 
was a man of undoubted importance in the community. 

"The old Warner home, now almost a century old, with the keystone 
arch over its colonial entrance, which was a distinguishing feature of but 
four other buildings of the time in the city, is still a dignified and substantial 
residence, the home of Mrs. Edgar Garvin in Walnut street. 

"Built with walls nearly two feet in thickness, it was intended, it is 
said, for defense against earthquakes as well as hostile enemies, but instead 
it became the citadel of romance as the home of the beautiful Nellie Warner, 
by whose lovers innumerable it was besieged from her earliest girlhood 
until her flight from it with her chosen husband, Guilford Eggleston, on the 
eve of what had been planned as her wedding day to another. 

"At the wharf waited the other lover, an eastern man, who was met, 
on his arrival by steamer from Pittsburg, with a note telling of the marriage 
of his fiancee to his rival. 

"From the Warner house which had been in readiness for the wedding 
festivities was banished even the name of her who was to have been the 
central figure. The trosseau prepared by her mother with lavish care was 
never worn. 

"Not till years after and in widow's weeds did Nellie Warner Eggleston 
return to her girlhood home. 

"At a later time after strenuous years she was again a bride — the wife 
of one of Indiana's wealthiest men, Mr. Culbertson of New Albany, over 


whose home she presided with that queenly grace for which her beauty 
and accomplishments had so perfectly fitted her. 

"To the Warner mansion also in this period came a visitor destined 
to fill a leading part in Evansville social life when in 1847 Miss Cornelia 
Morris of New York, afterward Mrs. Thomas E. Garvin, came to visit her 
cousin, Miss Nellie Warner. 

"A's the culmination of the romance begun during this visit was the 
marriage of Miss Morris to Mr. Garvin at her home in Penn Yan, New 
York, in 1849, the Warner house where they first met, being purchased 
many years after by 'Mr. Garvin and presented to his son, Edgar Garvin. 

"The Garvin homestead in South First street where Mr. and Mrs. Gar- 
vin took up their residence soon after its erection in i860 has been during 
the years since a leading factor in the social life of the city and the scene 
of many notable functions. 

"Prominent also as a leading figure and gracious hostess in the social 
life of the early forties was Miss Louisa Garvin, the sister of Hon. Thomas 
E. Garvin, who coming to this city in 1841 with the family of her sister and 
brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Baker, became in 1846 the wife of 
Dr. Isaac Casselberry, a prominent physician of the time, the wedding tak- 
ing place at her home in Gettysburg, Pa. 

"After residing for a time at the new home then recently erected by 
Governor Baker in Upper First street, now the residence of Mrs. James 
Gray, Dr. and Mrs. Casselberry built the residence adjoining the Garvin 
homestead which was the center of a brilliant social life for many years. 

"Adjoining the Warner homestead in Walnut street in the Evansville 
of that day was the residence occupied for a time by Mr. and Mrs. Charles 
\'iele, who during this period inaugurated a regime of elegant entertaining 
which was continued after their removal to their spacious home in Riverside 
avenue, then the handsomest in the city and where they were each season 
host and hostess for the most beautiful entertainments. 

"Mr. and Mrs. Viele were also among the earliest of Evansville's Eu- 
ropean tourists, making several successive journeys abroad from which they 
returned laden with treasures of art for the adornment of their handsome 
home. A world tour, the first to be made by Evansville residents, con- 
cluded their foreign travel. 

"Prominent also in the Evansville society of that time were two -charming 
and accomplished sisters. Miss Margaret and Miss Elizabeth Grant, who 
coming from their Kentucky home to visit their sister, Mrs. Paul Qifford, 
then with her family residing here, became at once by their beauty, wit 
and attractiveness leading figures in the social life of the day. 

"Afterward as the wives of two of Evansville's prominent citizens, Mr. 
Henry Morgan and Mr. George L. Sonntag, they were among the most 
notable of Evansville hostesses whose homes in Riverside avenue and Up- 
per First street (the Sonntag residence having been the one occupied later 


by Mrs. Samuel Bayard) having been leading centers of the social life of 
the city. 

"Clarinda and Mary Mitchell were familiar names among the young 
society of that day, the Mitchell home at the corner of Water and Main 
streets being a favorite resort of the young circles of the time. Mr. Mitchell, 
head of the house, was president of the Old State bank. The family was 
one of wealth and importance in the town. One of the Misses IMitchell, 
who later became Mrs. Farnsley, is remembered by many as a visitor here 
in later years. 

"The families of Hallock, Scantlin, Stevens and Pushee, which were 
identified with the same locality and prominent in social life are repre- 
sented in the Evansville of today. 

"The Hughes, Ingle and Babcock families were leading factors in Evans- 
ville social life from an early period. 

"The beautiful sisters of Mrs. William Hughes, the Misses Isabella and 
Agnes Davidson of Madison, Ind., who had been frequent visitors here, 
became the wives of Mr. John Ingle, Jr., the first president of the E. & T. 
H. railroad, and Mr. Elisha Babcock, also a well known citizen, their fam- 
ilies being prominently represented in present day Evansville life. 

"Of social distinction in the early Evansville was the Foster family, 
Mrs. Foster, the widow of Judge Matthew Foster, and mother of Hon. 
John W. Foster, of Washington, D. C, having been a distinguished figure 
of that period and gracing the Evansville of a later day until recent years. 
Her home in earlier years was the old Kaiser residence on the site of the 
present City National bank at the comer of First and Main. Hon. John 
W. Foster and Mrs. Foster, prominent in Evansville social life, have since 
leaving this city been of international fame in diplomatic circles in Wash- 
ington and European capitals. 

"To the Evansville of that time also came, soon after their arrival in 
this country, a family since closely identified with its social and professional 
life, when in 1849 Mrs. Thomas Runcie with her daughter. Miss Anne and 
four stalwart sons located in this city and vicinity. 

"Three of the young men of the Runcie family — Doctors Elias, Thomas 
and John, and the fourth, Rev. James Runcie, as a clergyman of the Epis- 
copal church, have since been prominently known in the professional life 
of Evansville and elsewhere. 

"Evansville then as now was noted for the beauty of its women, to 
whom the soft airs of Southern Indiana seemed to impart a distinctive 
charm. 'The most beautiful woman in Evansville in 1855,' is the inscrip- 
tion written on a photograph of Mrs. Isaac Keen, seen recently in an album 
of the period belonging to an Evansville family. Mrs. Keen, now of Buf- 
falo, New York, was before her marriage, Miss Mary McCallister and re- 
lated to the Terry family, 'also of the old residents. 

"Gracing the social life of the city of that period to which she came 
from New York as a bride in 1842, was Mrs. Oliver Ladd, later Mrs. R. 


S. Tenney, whose beauty and charm of personaHty are recalled by many 
of that day, and was retained in a marked degree almost to the recent 
close of her long life. 

"The family of Judge John Law held a prominent place in the social 
life of the early city, the homestead having been located in what was known 
at that time as Lamasco, at the corner of First avenue and Franklin street. 

"Miss Caroline Law, afterward Mrs. David J. Mackey, was a decided 
favorite in the young social circle of the day, and was one of the prominent 
hostesses, entertaining much at her home at the St. George hotel. 

"Among Evansville's beautiful women and gracious hostesses of the day 
was Miss Mary Howser, later Mrs. Henry Babcock, whose residence in 
Riverside avenue has for half a century been the home of cordial hospi- 

"Among Evans ville women of the period none enjoyed a wider popu- 
larity than Miss Christine Hooker, who, coming from Buffalo, New York, 
in the early fifties, to teach in the city schools then recently opened under 
the direction of Mr. H. Q. Wheeler, with her sister, Miss Hough, afterward 
conducted with great success a young ladies' seminary, which was for many 
years the fashionable finishing school of Evansville girls. 

"Of magnetic and exceptional personality. Miss Hooker's friendships 
were lifelong and it has also been said of her by her former pupils that she 
was the first woman in Evansville capable of managing a boy's school, so 
thoroughly did she understand the boy nature. 

"Prominent in the social life of the Evansville of the fifties and later 
was the family of William E. French and the Stockwell family, whose 
hospitalities were unbounded, the old French homestead occupied by the 
family until recent years having been located in outer Locust street. 

"Among those still remaining in the Evansville of today who enjoyed a 
decided popularity in the social life of that period is Mrs. Juliett Eldridge, 
whose home as Mrs. Charles Wells, located on the site of the present Levy 
residence in Riverside avenue, was a favorite resort of the society of the 

"The various branches of the Walker family — the families of Mr. 
James Walker, Dr. George and Dr. John T. Walker were leading figures 
in the social and professional life of the city, as their descendants are of 
the present time. 

"The Linck family were of early prominence, the homestead being at 
the corner of Locust and First, where the Orpheum now stands. 

"Among other leading figures in the Evansville of the time were the 
Chandler family, still represented in the city of today, the Dodge, Caldwell 
and DePuy families, whose residences on Upper First and Second were 
occupied by them for more than half a century, the Sweetser home being 
on the site of the former DePuy residence. 

"The Haafif and Sharp families were among leading Evansville residents 
of the time, none of whom is now living in the city, although several col- 


lateral branches are represented here. The Rathbone family, once early 
residents, are now represented by their splendid benefaction, 'The Rath- 
bone Home.' Evansville now as then distinguished for the esprit and 
charm of its social life, no less than the warmth of its hospitality, still re- 
tains, although a city of perhaps seventy thousand, the characteristics which 
gave it distinctive attractiveness at that early period." 

[Note — And can I be blamed if for a moment my heart goes out to the 
memory of my angel mother, for so many of the dear good women mentioned 
above were with her when she died here, a stranger in a strange land. 
She was Cordelia Frances Manson of Mobile, when my father met her, 
married her and brought her here to Evansville. The wings of the Death 
Angel wafted away her last breath and that of my little brother almost at 
the same time. 

My father was in New Orleans at the time and I was left here alone, 
but these warm-hearted ones cared for the little stranger. They have all 
gone to their reward, but to me their graves are as sacred as that of one I 
bad just learned to call "Mother." — Ed.] 








It must not be forgotten that of all the days in the year in the olden 
times, the day beside which Christmas and New Years faded, was the 4th 
of July. Until long after the Civil War, this was considered the one great 
day of the year and at every county seat in southern Indiana, arrangements 
were always made for a gathering of all the residents. The day generally 
opened with the firing of the blacksmith's anvils for there was not a can- 
non in this entire section, nor were there any shot guns in any number and 
of course the old rifle with its sharp crack did not make noise enough to 
suit the rising generation. Firecrackers were an unknown quantity and 
did not appear for many years after this country was settled, when they 
were imported from China. The first ones were looked on with a great 
deal of curiosity and their price was so high that the average boy could 
not invest in them. In fact, the boy in those days had little to do with the 
noise part, so the old blacksmith's anvil came into play. The hole in the 
anvil was filled with powder which was touched off generally by the black- 
smith himself with a long red-hot iron bar. The custom was to fire one 
salute for every state then in the Union and it must be remembered that 
there were very few at that time. After the salute there was always a 
procession in which everyone took part. After the war of i8i2«the vet- 
erans always appeared in these processions, but the citizens in general 
would either walk or drive with their wives in the buggies and wagons in 
those days and make a circuit of the little town of Evansville. Of course 
the militia companies always took part in those parades. From the time 
this countr}' was first settled up to the time Indiana adopted her second 
constitution, there were militia laws whicli called for musters and that is 
why there were so many military titles in the old days. People imagine 
that these titles grew out of the war of 1776 but this was not so, for the 
great majority of the generals, colonels, majors and captains, gained their 


titles through serving with the militia. Of course in a small town the com- 
pany was always small but it had to have its officers all the same. The uni- 
forms were not according to regulation, as the government could not afiford 
to outfit these militia companies so they were allowed to follow their own 
free will, and a uniform was about as follows: A blue coat made of the 
usual homespun blue jeans cut with a high collar, a swallow tail and with 
stripes of common red tape across the breast. There were always two rows 
of brass buttons that were made of any kind of tinseled brass that could 
be gotten. The belts were of homespun jeans or buckskin and a long sword 
(and of these, there were never any two alike) an enormous three-cornered 
hat and a waving plume completed the outfit. Of course moccasins were 
worn on the feet. Still these brawny pioneers did not look at all badly and 
as a great majority of them were splendid riders, they compared very 
favorably with the broadcloth-covered officers who sometimes turn out at 
the present day and imagine that the way to ride a horse is to use a very 
short stirrup and stick their feet out at right angles from their shoulders 
and bob up and down as much as possible, while riding. I have seen some 
of these alleged officers in Evansville that would make one of these old 
pioneers turn over in his grave. 

The procession always wound up at the spit where the 4th of July cele- 
bration barbecue was served. A 4th of July celebration without a barbecue 
free to all, was something unknown. The expenses were very light. Some 
farmer would come in with a deer and another with a sheep and another 
perhaps with a bear or a couple of shoats and there was always meat 
enough for all provided by them. If there seemed to be any scarcity, the 
people would chip in and buy a steer which would be roasted almost whole. 
The side dishes were white and Irish potatoes and corn bread. There was 
some cider too in those days, but as a rule, whisky was about as cheap as 
cider and a great many of the German pioneers made wines of different 
kinds and it is a fact that where there were such unlimited sources for 
drinking such a thing as a drunken man on 4th of July was almost unknown- 
It is a fact that when the average drinker knows that he can get liquor by 
simply taking it, he cares little for it, or less than if he has to pay for it 
or acquire it by some underhanded means. However, the eating never 
began until after the orations of the day. The first thing of course, was the 
reading of the Declaration of Independence and for this some rising young 
orator whose voice was very often far better than his knowledge of rhetorio 
was chosen. After that came a 4th of July speech which was generally 
along the lines of the Declaration, for, heaven be thanked, we had no poli- 
tics in those days to discuss. These speeches were generally made by politi- 
cians, for the politician has been with us always and while it was considered 
a breach of courtesy for any orator to refer to either political party, he 
generally was glad allowed to make tliis speech in order to show his 
party what he would be able to do when the next campaign began. Then 
came the dinner to which they did full justice. Dyspepsia and a thousand 


other diseases which we love to discuss in these days were unknown. Al- 
most anybody could sit down and eat a good meal at any time in the day 
and not talk about it for hours afterwards. In the afternoon the children 
played games and the glee clubs which were a part of every little place, 
sang patriotic songs and young and old took part in various games of the 
day. There were no tops to spin, no bicycle races and an appearance of 
an automobile would have frightened the whole crowd off the grounds, but 
many of the young men had marbles and strange to say they generally pro- 
nounced this word marvels. Some were "bought" marbles but very few of 
them, and the majority of them were made by themselves out of stones 
which they smoothed until they became round. The game now where a 
boy drops to one knee and shoots, was unknown, the only game being bull- 
pen and the young men shot their marbles standing. Even the old men 
never gave up this game, for it was a great test for the eye and also for 
the strength of the knuckle to be able to plump the center duck out of the 
bull ring. By five o'clock everybody was ready to go home and the grounds 
were soon cleared up and the great day that came but once a year, was over. 
These affairs were very primitive but it is a question if there was not as 
much real enjoyment in those days as there is in t^e 4th of July of the 
present age. The 4th of July at present has become almost a nuisance. 
Firecrackers, toy pistols and fireworks brought such havoc in later days, 
that they have been virtually stopped in every city where the administration 
had any sense. There is such a thing as running good things into the ground 
and that is what was certainly done with the firecracker which originated 
as a little thing no larger around than a lead pencil and with a harmless 
kind of crack, and developed into the great giant cracker which was not 
only dangerous but enough to destroy the nerves of all sensible people who 
were near them when they were discharged. These abominations got into 
the hands of fool young men whose addlepated sense of humor was such 
that they thought it was a great joke to explode them near nervous women. 
It is perhaps unfortunate that the youth of today has lost a sense of re- 
spect for that splendid document, the Declaration of Independence, and 
that he should no longer care to hear a 4th of July oration, no matter what 
merit it may have. But this loss of interest is due to the fact that both 
political parties have for years used the Declaration of Independence and 
the 4th of July oration to further their own selfish ends and when the aver- 
age youth hears either one of them started, he is apt to say, "Oh, give us a 
rest," and walk away — and who can blame him. 

Mr. Percy Carroll, a trenchant writer who is always up-to-date, says 
regarding celebrating the Fourth : "Fourth of July celebrations, like many 
other things in this most interesting period of the world's development, are 
undergoing a change. At present they are chaotic, and in many places 
practically non-existent. 

"Everywhere July 4 is a holiday. Business ceases and a day of relief 
from the treadmill of labor is proclaimed. In some places there are formal 


celebrations, but by no means so many as there used to be. There was a 
time, not long ago, when every community had its Fourth of July exercises, 
and no one would think of omitting them any more than he would consider 
omitting Christmas gift-giving. 

"The decline of the Fourth of July celebration is not due to loss of 
patriotism. Never in the history of the nation have the iires of patriotism 
burned so brightly on the altars of the people as they do today. But Inde- 
pendence Day celebrations have gone out of vogue because they degenerated 
into tiresome and terrible occasions, when more lives were sacrificed to the 
customs of the day than were lost in the War for Independence. 

"To many. Fourth of July was not Fourth of July without noise, and 
the more noise there was the better the day. The small boy had his part 
in this and usually gets blamed for all of it; but he is entitled to a better 
hearing than he has had on this subject. 

"To many others. Fourth of July has been a day for getting drunk. 
Independence and the birth of liberty on a continent where it should shine 
as a beacon light to humanity the world over were deemed properly cele- 
brated by numerous potations that drenched the soul in mists of maudlin 
and stupid exhilaration. 

"It is not strange that the old ways of celebrating the Fourth have gone 
out of fashion, and that communities and states are making laws against 
them. The time is come when new methods of celebrating the nation's 
birthday are needed, and be sure that they will be evolved out of the need 
of them. 

"Massachusetts having abolished by law every implement of boisterous 
celebration except the baby firecrackers that strive in vain to make the day 
hideous, Boston has devised a new scheme of celebration, or rather a return 
to one of the prettiest features of the old way of celebrating. 

"On the Fourth of July of this year the Declaration of Independence 
will be read to the assembled people from the balcony of the state house. 

"Reading the Declaration of Independence used to be the prime feature 
of the day. The noise and tumult that came to be associated with the 
Fourth, however, distracted attention from it so much that it was generally 
dropped, long ago. 

"Now that the general idea seems to be to abolish the noisy Fourth and 
to try to replace it by something pleasant and seemly, maybe it will be 
possible to get a hearing for the Declaration of Independence. 

"And now that the American people are taking a new start toward 
ultimate democracy, it will be a very good thing indeed to refresh our 
memories by a reading of that immortal document." 


The first bank of whicTi the writer has any remembrance was what was 
known as the Canal bank. This was in a brick building on Water street, or 
about where the Bayard store now stands. The head of the bank was Hor- 


atio Q. Wheeler, an eastern man who was at the same time, the head of 
the school system of Evansville. The bank was a very small affair but was 
absolutely safe. But this, however, was not the first bank established in 
Evansville. In 1834 the Old State Bank of Indiana was organized, with 
a capital of $80,000. The first meeting of the board of directors was No- 
vember II, 1834, and the members were Robert Stockwell, John Shanklin, 
Marcus Sherwood, William Lewis, William Owens, Robert Barnes, Jo- 
seph Elliot, James Cawson, Mr. North and John Mitchell. It will be seen 
from this list of names that the citizens of the very best standing in those 
days were among the officers of this board. John Mitchell was elected 
president and John Edwards cashier. After Mr. Mitchell's death, Mr. 
Samuel Orr was elected president. In 1843 ^he capital of the bank was in- 
creased to $150,000, of which $73,000 was owned by the state. In 1847 
Geo. W. Rathbone became cashier. He held his position for ten years, 
when the bank was changed to the "Branch of the bank of the state of In- 
diana." This new bank had a board of directors, among whom were some 
new names, all of equally as good standing, namely: G. W. Rathbone, Rob- 
ert Perry, H. O. Wheeler, R. R. Roberts and Geo. Foster. Mr. Rathbone 
was chosen president and Samuel Bayard cashier. Immediately after the 
war the bank was reorganized as the Evansville National Bank, with a cap- 
ital of $300,000 which was soon raised to $800,000. Mr. W. J. Lowry 
"Uncle Billy," who had come here from Mt. Vernon was elected president 
and R. R. Roberts cashier. After that Mr. Rathbone was again chosen 
president, Mr. Samuel Bayard vice president and V. M. Watkins cashier. 
About this time Mr. Rathbone moved to New York and Mr. Bayard filled 
the position of president while Captain John Gilbert became vice president. 
The charter of this bank which was to run 20 years expired in 1885, when 
it became the Old National Bank, Samuel Bayard, president, John Gilbert 
vice president, Henry Reis, Samuel Bayard, D. J. Mackey, William Heil- 
man, R. K. Dunkerson, Henry F. Blount, William M. Akin, Edward G. 
Ragon and John Gilbert, directors. The surplus of the bank then was 
$250,000. Its deposits were nearly $100,000. This stock has always paid 
large dividends and is always quoted high in the market. In fact, there has 
been very little if any of the stock for sale. The bank, and it is hard to 
keep from calling it the Old Bank, was built in 1836, and is a most massive 
structure. In 1889 it was thoroughly gone over and some changes made in 
the interior. Mr. Bayard was identified with this bank for nearly half a 
century and no one has ever questioned his sound judgment and his great 
executive skill and at the same time, his untarnished honor. Those who 
did not know Mr. Samuel Bayard could not realize that under a somewhat 
cold and reserved exterior, he possessed one of the warmest of hearts. 
At the bank where the handling of large amounts was a daily matter, where 
quick decisions were necessary and where a thorough knowledge of men 
and matters were a part of the business, his entire mind was absorbed 
in his work, but when at 3 o'clock the doors closed and Mr. Bayard went to 


his home, then the real man showed itself. No more pleasant, no more 
well-informed or no more entertaining a companion could be found any- 


In 1850 there was organized what was known as the Evansville Insur- 
ance Company. It had a capital of $250,000 and obtained a charter which 
gave it all insurance and banking privileges. The old Canal bank had been 
conducted under the Free Banking Law of Indiana, but in 1863 it w^as 
incorporated as the First National Bank of Evansville. Shortly afterwards 
the original capital was increased to $500,000. It made money from the 
very beginning. Its first board was composed of Mr. Maghee, Robert 
Barnes, Charles Viele, John S. Hopkins, John Ingle, Jr., Dr. M. J. Bray and 
S. M. Archer. H. O. Wheeler was made president and William T. Page 
cashier. It is sad to state that not one of these men is now living, every one 
of them having passed to his reward. In 1865 James H. Cutler was ap- 
pointed cashier and in 1868 John S. Hopkins became president. Charles 
Viele was president in 1879 and was succeeded in 1893 by Francis J. Rice. 
At that time James H. Cutler was vice president, Henry L. Cook cashier, 
and John H. Dippel assistant cashier. The directors had changed to F. J. 
Reitz, Thomas E. Garvin, James H. Cutler, Geo. B. Mesker, Madison J. 
Bray, John Ingle, C. F. Jacobi, A. J. Klein and David Kronenberger. The 
name of the bank now is the City National. Francis J. Reitz is president, 
C. B. Enlow, cashier. Mr. Dipple still holds the place of assistant cashier. 
Its capital is $350,000 and its surplus and undivided profits, $300,000. 


This bank succeeded the banking house of W. G. Lowry & Co., and 
began business at 121 Upper First street, with a capital of $175,000. Its 
first officers were R. C. Slaughter, president; S. P. Gillett, cashier; R. C. 
Slaughter, John J. Roach, Leroy Swormstedt, Geo. P. Hudspeth, Samuel 
Yickory, F. W. Cook, J. H. McNeeley, Fred Lukenheimer and S. P. Gillett, 
as directors. Mr. Slaughter resigned in 1883 and was succeeded by Mathew 
Henning. S. P. Gillett succeeded Mr. Henning in 1884. In 1876 J. W. 
Walker and J. S. Buchanan were added to the board of directors, and in 
1877 they were succeeded by Charles Kellogg and A. C. Tanner. In 1879 
Dr. C. P. Bacon became a member of the board. In 1883 W. M. Akin and 
L. Lowenthal were added. In 1891 the death of A. C. Tanner brought 
about the election of Judge Azro Dyer in his place. It has always been the 
boast, perhaps the greatest boast, of the business men of Evansville, that 
during the entire history of the city there has never been a bank failure 
and the nearest approach to one occurred in connection with the bank above 
noted, only a short time ago. This bank never broke nor was it in any dan- 
ger of breaking, but investigation into its books showed that it had made 


some what might have been called bad loans, but at the same time the capital 
was never impaired and there never was the slightest need for its depositors 
to feel any doubt but that they would receive back every cent which they 
had paid in. But all over this country it has been the same. Let one whisper 
that any bank is in a critical condition, and timid depositors go like a flock 
of sheep, to draw out what they have in. This was exemplified some years 
ago in the case of the People's Savings Bank, one of the soundest institu- 
tions that ever existed in the city of Evansville. Some idiot started a report 
that the bank was in bad shape and the sidewalks were soon crowded with 
people desiring to draw out their small means, for the People's Savings 
Bank had been noted for the large number of its small depositors. There 
was never a minute that the bank could not pay dollar for dollar and the 
Evening Tribune, in a strongly written article, criticised the people for 
being so foolish and made the assertion boldly that no one would lose a cent 
from the People's Savings Bank. It is needless to say that the bank kept 
paying right on, and the only trouble was that the timid ones who were in 
such a rush to draw out their money simply threw away an enormous amount 
of interest which they would otherwise have collected. The fact of the 
matter is that this scare was one of the best things that ever happened to 
the bank. 

The officers of the Citizen's National Bank now are: Allen Gray, pres- 
ident; J. C. Johnson, vice president; Dr. C. P. Bacon, vice president; Frank 
Fuchs, cashier; F. W. Cook, H. E. Bacon, F. W. Lauenstein, Samuel Vick- 
ory, Charles W. Cook, W. W. Gray, directors; with a capital of $300,000. 
It will be seen by the above that this is a very strong directorate both finan- 
cially and in point of business acumen and it is safe to say, that so long as 
this bank may exist there will never be another flurry of any kind regard- 
ing its affairs. 

The founding of the German National Bank was diflferent from the 
others. It purchased a charter of the East Chester National Bank of New 
Jersey and congress gave the officials permission to transfer the bank and 
change the name to the German National Bank of Evansville. The capital 
stock was $250,000 and they had permission to increase this to $500,000. 
Samuel Orr was selected as president, John A. Reitz vice president and 
Philip C. Decker, who is now one of the oldest bankers in the city, was 
cashier. The directors were Samuel Orr, John A. Reitz, Samuel Bayard. 
James Kerth, Edward Boetticher, Charles Schultz, Theo. McFerson and 
Philip C. Decker. Mr. Orr died in 1883 and was succeeded by Mr. Reitz 
and Mr. Philip C. Decker became vice president. The charter of this 
company expired in the year 1890 and it was reorganized as the German 
Bank, with a capital of $400,000. Mr. Reitz died in 1892 and Philip C. 
Decker was elected president and R. K. Dunkerson vice president. A year 
afterwards Joseph Brentano succeeded H. L. Cook as cashier. This bank 
first started on First street but afterwards obtained control of the building 
once known as the Crescent City Hall at the corner of 3rd and Main, in 


which they now have pleasant quarters. It has been very successful and 
as will be seen from its officials, tliey were all men who understood the 
banking business in all its details. 

people's savings bank. 

This bank, which is said now to have the largest cash surplus of any 
bank in Evansville, was founded in 1870. The projectors of this bank 
realized that with the large manufacturing element in this city, which em- 
ployed the services of so many men, a bank that would receive small de- 
posits from these men, as they were able to save from their wages, would 
be extremely successful. The first officers were: John M. Shackleford, 
president; John D. Roach, secretary and treasurer; J. M. Shackleford, 
Eccles G. Van Riper, M. Muhlhausen, John Laval, James Steele, Fred 
Lunkenheimer, Christian Hedderich, James W. Lauer, trustees. 

After Mr. Roach died Dr. John Laval became secretary and treasurer. 
He in turn resigned in 1880, and Fred Lunkenheimer was elected to fill 
the vacancy. He was succeeded by Major Jesse Walker who served only 
three years and then died. In 1888 Col. John Rheinlander became pres- 
ident and served for many years. Michael Schaefer was cashier of the 
bank from 1880 till the time of his death. About this time James T. Walker 
and D. Edwin Walker became interested in the bank and have since been 
prominent in the management. 

To show from what small beginnings a large business may grow, the 
bank only had two depositors on the first day that it opened. One depos- 
ited $2 and the other $1. It would be hard to say how many depositors it 
now has. It has grown wonderfully and in another part of this work men- 
tion is made of the beautiful building which they have erected on the site 
of the old one. The bank at present has the following officials : Dr. Muhl- 
hausen, president ; Frank Schwegman, cashier ; and L. H. Legler, secretary. 


In July, 1890, this bank was started in the west comer of the B. M. A. 
building. E. P. Huston was president, F. W. Cook cashier and A. W. 
Emery assistant cashier. The board of directors were William Heilman, 
F. W. Cook, E. R. Huston, Robert Huston, Samuel Bayard, E. G. Ragon, 
E. B. Morgan and J. E. Igleheart. It was incorporated with a capital of 
$100,000. This was afterward increased to $250,000. The Bank of Com- 
merce was not as successful as some of the others. The death of Mr. 
Heilman had its effect, and also the financial embarrassment of two of the 
other members and stockholders and it later liquidated. 


The Mercantile Trust and Savings company, which is remodeling its 
home at the corner of Second and Sycamore streets, in the Waverly build- 
ing, is the third bank to occupy that comer. The original institution was 


the Bank of Commerce. Five years ago the Mercantile National was 
started and corollary to it the Mercantile Trust and Savings was estab- 

Last July the directors of the two institutions decided to merge, the 
change wiping out the charter of the Mercantile National. The depositors 
of this latter institution have been paid oiif, and the stockholders are now 
being settled with. Within a few weeks the liquidation of the national 
bank will have been completed. 

The Trust and Savings Company, with deposits of over $500,000, and 
ably officered by Charles Finley Smith as president, William Warren vice 
president, and W. Ed. Clarke as secretary, is one of the most progressive 
banking institutions in the city. It is closely allied with the development 
of the Public Service Steam Heating and Electric Company. The directors 
of the Trust and Savings Company are Charles Finley Smith, William 
Warren, H. J. Karges, Charles Scholz, Clarence Schutz, H. C. Murphy, 
W. A. Koch, W. E. Stinson, R. Mannheimer, H. C. Kleymeyer, B. F. 


The West Side bank was established November 10, 1902, in order to 
meet the growing demand of the pushing merchants of that part of the 
city, who often lacked time to come up town and leave their business be- 
fore the closing of the banks at three o'clock. Again, the lower part of 
the city had increased so much in the way of capital that some of the best 
citizens of that part of Evansville decided that a good bank would be a 
fine speculative investment. It was commodious quarters without very 
much attempt at fine architecture, but as regards its financial standing 
there is absolutely no doubt. The board at present is : 

Ben Bosse, president, J. W. Vamer, vice president, H. J. Reichman, 
cashier, and A. A. Klein, assistant cashier, W. A. Rosenberger, assistant 
cashier. The directors are: Geo. Bockstaege, Ben Bosse, J. C. Fischer, 
Geo. W. Folz, Wiillam Haynes, Thomas Macer, Frank Lahofif, August 
Rosenberger, Dr. Geo. W. Vamer. 

It will be noted that these gentlemen represent the most progressive ele- 
ment of the West End. 


The American Trust and Savings company was incorporated December 
1st, 1904. The directors erected a beautiful building at the corner of Main 
and Sixth streets. The business of this institution is varied. Not only do 
they do a fine banking business but they handle estates, act as trustees, and 
handle loans of all kinds. They also have a safety deposit department con- 
nected with it and are equipped with everything that goes to make up an 
up-to-date banking institution. The board are : Marcus Sonntag, president. 


Walter J. Lewis, vice president, Walter H. Karsch, secretary, and the di- 
rectors are: W. H. McCurdy, Wilbur Erskine, W. W. Lewis, Christian 
Kanzler, Clifford Shopbell, August Rosenberger, Geo. L. Torian, Marcus 
S. Sonntag, and Walter Lewis. 

This building cost nearly $100,000 and has one of the handsomest fronts 
in the city. 

farmers' and citizens' bank of HOWELL. 

This bank in our progressive suburb was organized in 1906, to meet the 
wants of the merchants of Howell, as well as many farmers residing in the 
territory near there. In point of capital this would not be called a large 
institution but it is of sufficient size to do the business necessary to the 
section in which it is located. A glance at the list of officials will convince 
one that its business will be done on a most conservative basis. Dr. D. A. 
Cox is president, and Henry E. Drier, treasurer. The directors are E. G. 
Thomas, L. Rollet, A. A. Kamp, J. J. Thompson, R. S. Worst and Charles 

THE exchange BANK. 

The Exchange Bank is a substantial bank of not very large capital but it 
really does not need it in the line of business which it pursues, although 
it does a general banking business in connection with real estate loans, of 
the settlement of estates, acting as trustees for estates, etc. The officials 
are : Joe Bailey, president ; William J. Rogers, vice president ; Vernon Sul- 
lenger, cashier; directors, F. C. Gore, Joe Bailey, W. J. Rogers and F. A. 

It is with pride that this work refers to the above list of well-conducted 
banking institutions. Probably no city of the size of Evansville has more 
of such institutions in ratio to its population and they are a wonderful aid 
to the community, for in a city so rapidly growing, almost every man of 
any push and energy is compelled to go to the banks at times. There are 
many who do not seem to realize of what the business of banking consists 
and a little anecdote may possibly enlighten them. 

Some years ago a man who was possessed of a great deal of real estate 
had never failed to pay an honest debt in his life and stood high in the com- 
munity in every respect, found it necessary to go to one of the banks for 
some ready money to aid him in an investment he was making. He went 
to a certain bank and approached the president with fear and trembling. 
He had his hat in his hands and his air was that of a man going to be 
executed. He was ushered into the private office of the president who very 
kindly said, "Well, what can I do for you?" The first party began by say- 
ing that he had come asking a very great favor, that he did not know 
whether it could be granted or not but if it could be it would be the great- 
est favor ever done him in his life. He went on to say that he referred to 
all the citizens who had known him as to whether or not he was an honest 


man and he needed some money, and he had gotten about this far, when 
much to his surprise, the president slapped him on the back and said, "Now 
look here. You sit down in that chair and tell me how much you want. 
That is all we want to know. You have gotten the wrong idea about banks. 
Our business is to loan money and not keep it tied up in the vault and when- 
ever as good a man as you are comes here to borrow money, he is the one 
who is doing the favor and not us." He continued, "Now don't ever be 
afraid to go to the bank. People imagine sometimes that banks do not 
want to loan money because a great many questions are asked when a man 
comes to borrow. But this is only a matter of business. Whenever we 
find that a customer is all right he can borrow just as far as he can put up 
collateral to secure us on our investment. If we simply took in money and 
stowed it away in our vault and never loaned it, it would be a very short 
time until this bank would have to close up. It is the interest that we 
make in our loans that keeps all the wheels greased, pays my salary and 
the salary of all tlie men whom you see working here, so dont' be afraid to 
come back and see us again." 

The man drew a long sigh of relief, got his money and meeting a friend 
said, "Why, I was scared to death when I went to the bank for money but 
I guess it was because I had never been there before. They are the nicest 
fellows I ever met and if I had just staid there a little longer I could have 
borrowed every cent they had." 


Who can imagine a town, even a small one, without its paper? It is in 
the morning that we pick up our dailies and read of events occurring all 
over the entire world or in the evening sit after a day's work and read what 
has happened in the last 24 hours preceding. It is really hard to imagine 
what must have been the state of affairs when the only newspaper was 
from mouth to mouth and when events that would startle the whole world 
and are now flashed over the telegraph wires in a few moments, only be- 
came known months after they happened and even when the newspapers 
in this city began, their crudity was in great contrast with the papers of the 
present. Within my recollection, we had hand presses and what were 
known as flat-bed presses. The hand presses were as the name indicates, 
turned by hand, just as they grind sausages, while the flat-bed presses were 
really not so very much better as regarded speed and in those early days 
an editor was not only expected to write his own matter, but he must be 
a typesetter and know how to make up his forms, read his own proof, put 
his form on the old press bed and then get off his edition as best he could. 
He must even know how to make his own rollers, a thing that is done now 
by factories who make a business of turning them out, and they are shipped 
ready-made of any size and any hardness and to work on any and all kinds 
of presses. The Journal and Courier had flat-bed presses of the old kind, 











. ~^^ - 



as did the Evansville Demokrat. The Tribune, before I bought it, had be- 
come quite high-toned and actually owned a double cylinder Hoe press. 
This press was held together by so many wires and pieces of rope and belts 
that it was hard to tell where the press needed repairs. To actually run 
off an edition without stopping for repairs was an unknown quantity. To- 
day everything is changed. 

A perfect press turns out papers from a huge roll of paper, cuts the 
copies, folds them and pushes them nicely into little boxes, so that one can 
simply push the lever which starts the press and he has nothing to do save 
take out the papers ready for delivery. It may be said to the credit of 
Evansville, that it early realized the necessity of a newspaper, for the Evans- 
ville Gazette was published in 1821. Its proprietors were Gen. Elisha 
Harrison and William Monroe. Gen. Harrison had great ability and en- 
ergy and was a self-taught man. He held many places of trust and was 
much esteemed for his manly qualities. He was the kind of a man who 
stamped his personality on everyone with which he had any connection. 
His partner, Mr. Monroe, was simply a practical printer. He knew how 
to set type in a machinelike manner and that was all. When the hard times 
came in 1824, the Gazette passed out of existence and for ten years no paper 
nearer than Vincenes was published in this entire part of the state. At that 
time an Eastern man, William Town, came here and announced his inten- 
tion of starting a weekly paper. Of course he was met with open arms by 
the citizens and what encouragement they could give him they freely ex- 
tended. Mr. Town was a well educated man and in order to eke out a 
livelihood he taught a grammar school in the old Presbyterian church at 
night, while he was preparing his printing office on Main street. In March, 
1834, he got out his first issue and his leading item was a long account of the 
Buck Horn tavern. This gained its name from its sign — an enormous deer 
or buck horn nailed to the top of a post which stood in front of the cabin. 
Mr. Town called his paper the Evansville Journal and the name has never 
been changed up to the present time, although the word "News" has been 
added during the last years. The Journal was, of course, a Whig paper, 
as there was no Republican party in those days and it paid very little atten- 
tion to politics, its every aim being to assist in developing this part of the 
country. If the papers of the present day would only follow the example of 
this primitive sheet, how much better off the people and the country would 
be. Mr. Town died but a year after coming here in 1839. His paper 
was bought by William H. and John J. Chandler, who were both highly 
capable men and of great influence. When they took charge of the paper 
they changed the name to the Evansville Journal and Vanderburg Adver- 
tiser, but this was entirely too heavy a head for the size of the sheet and they 
soon dropped the latter part. The greatest improvement in the paper was 
in its appearance. As William H. Chandler was a practical printer, the old 
copies of the paper show that in make-up and general appearance the ap- 
pearance of the paper imroved wonderfully in its very first issue. Mr. 


John J. Chandler, through the pressure of legal business, was compelled to 
give up his connection with the paper and sold his interest to his brother. 
In 1846 the latter started a Tri- weekly Journal and in 1848 the Daily Jour- 
nal. Mr. Chandler did the manifold duties of editor, news department 
and a great deal of the mechanical work. It is said that he used to go to the 
office at four o'clock in the morning and remain until midnight, so that it 
is no wonder he succeeded even in such a small field. He was from Ver- 
mont originally and his father died from that strange disease, "milk sick- 
ness." He had worked at Nashville on the Republican of that city as fore- 
man of the book department and had saved up $2,000. It was with this 
money that he started in the newspaper business here. He was appointed 
postmaster in 1848 and at once sold the Journal to Gen. Add H. Sanders. 
He held the office during the term of President Pierce and shortly after- 
wards he was almost completely disabled by rheumatism and was com- 
pelled to retire from active life in 1862. He published the first city direc- 
tory in Evansville. Gen. Sanders owned the Journal for six years. He 
was an accomplished journalist of the old school and the paper became very 
popular. His editorials were to the point and, being a naturally witty man 
who abounded in humor, his local paragraphs were very engaging. He 
turned his attention to the city department and made of that all that could 
be made of it. In those days the owner of the paper was supposed to write 
a few editorials and allow the city department to be made up of anything 
that happened to come in. Gen. Sanders was also a Whig and advocated 
the principles of that party until the campaign of 1852. He opposed vig- 
orously the democratic party in 1884, and put his paper into the know- 
nothing line. The history of the know-nothing party is that it existed for 
a short time and it is very hard to tell of just what its principles consisted. 
Two years afterward he supported Millard Fillmore for the presidency, as 
a representative of the American party. But while the contest was at its 
height he sold the paper to F. Y. Carlile, a thorough scholar of great literary 
attainments. He was a ready and careful writer, while his sarcasm was 
particularly effective. He made the mistake of discussing too many scien- 
tific, financial and economic questions and, to put it plainly, his ideas were 
ahead of the ideas of his readers. In politics he was not at all effective 
and the paper did not progress as was expected, so he decided to associate 
himself with practical printers, and it was this decision that made F. M. 
Thayer and John H. McNeely partners in the Journal. They took hold 
in 1858 and controlled both the financial and the mechanical departments. 
At this time the Journal was published at the corner of Main and Water 
streets, in the old Lewis building upstairs. The entire work was done on 
two hand presses and it is said that the weekly pay roll covering everything 
was only about $60. It can thus be imagined that the two mechanics did 
most of the work. Very shortly they put in a steam engine and power 
press and also decided to put in a job press and a lot of new job type. 
They were just getting into shape when a fire wiped out the building and 


destroyed their office completely. The paper suspended, however, only for 
one day. In 1858 the proprietors of the Journal very wisely decided that 
it was not necessary for a paper to be published on Main street, and if they 
got out a readable paper it made no diiiference where the mechanical paper 
was done, so they purchased a lot where now stands the sugar house of the 
Bement Grocery Company at Locust and Water streets. It was at first a 
two-story frame, fifty feet deep, with a basement fitted out for a press 
room. In 1865 they began the erection of a better building and in 1867 
they had a most complete plant, a commodious three-story brick, with a 
fine jobbing department and everything necessary to turn out not only 
first-class newspapers but all kinds of book and job printing. At this time 
Mr. Thayer took charge of the editorial department, long before Mr. Car- 
lile had sold his interest to James H. McNeely. Mr. Carlile had advocated 
the election the election of Gen. Hovey on what was known as the anti- 
Nebraska issue, one of the old-time political issues of the day. Those who 
remember old papers will note that even in those days the chief aim of the 
two parties of the country was to find "issues" on which to fight. Possibly 
the general public who read the news in those days believe that these issues 
were of great importance and not simply vehicles to be used to fight over, 
so that the big men of one party or the other could get into office and draw 
a fat salary. In these days the people are better educated and when the 
average politician fires away and talks, the people take his speech for ex- 
actly what it is worth. It is a great pity, in the mind of the writer, that 
the people have not known this all along. With ti:e retirement of Mr. Car- 
lile the two proprietors, who were republicans by instinct, determined to 
cast their fortunes with this new political organization and the position of 
the paper has never changed from that day. When Abraham Lincoln was 
nominated at Chicago the Journal was one of his warmest supporters and 
throughout that campaign it fought boldy for his election. At that time 
Vanderburg County went republican and much of this is due to the good 
work done by the Journal. After the election of Mr. Lincoln, James H. 
McNeeley was appointed postmaster and Mr. Thayer took entire charge of 
the editorial department and conducted it for more than twenty years. All 
through the war the Journal was never changed in its loyalty. It again 
supported Mr. Lincoln in 1864. In 1866 Col. John W. Foster bought the 
interest of James H. McNeely and at once began to show his wonderful 
ability in the editorial department and shortly afterward Edward Tabor 
who had been with the office for many years, was also taken in as a part- 
ner and with a position of business manager. Col. Foster was appointed 
postmaster by Gen. Grant in 1872 and sold his interest in the office to Mr. 
Qaude G. DeBruler, a young but able editor. Mr. Thayer shortly after- 
wards moved to the West and Mr. Tabor died, and the paper was thus 
left to the ownership of John H. McNeely and Mr. DeBruler. Mr. James 
H. McNeely purchased Mr. DeBruler's interest and again assumed control 


of the editorial rooms. A stock company was formed shortly afterwards 
but the controlling interests were owned by the McNeely family. 

At the time the opera house was burned down the plant of the Journal 
was destroyed. Mr. E. T. McNeely, who had displayed ability in the man- 
aging of the Journal, again showed his business sagacity and secured the 
large building on Main between Fifth and Sixth, which was known then 
as the Roelker building. There were many who said that the Journal had 
moved clear out of town, but it has been proven that Mr. McNeely knew 
exactly what he was doing and it was only a short time until Main street 
rapidly built up and his location became a most valuable one. The large 
building gave ample room for all his needs, while he was able to rent other 
portions of the building for a price that made his own occupancy cost very 
little. Recently the Journal has suffered through another fire, and a con- 
tract has been made by which a beautiful building will be built, just around 
the corner on Fifth street. This will have every modern improvement and 
will be one of the handsomest newspaper offices in the state. A few years 
ago Mr. McNeely decided that a good bright evening paper was a necessity 
in Evansville and began the publication of the Evening News. Prior to 
that time he had acquired the machinery of the Tribune office and was in a 
position to turn out a very speedy afternoon paper. In a short time the 
afternoon issue became so popular that it was decided to drop the morning 
edition and the name of the old Journal, which for so many years has been 
the standby of the republican party here, was hyphenated, and the Jour- 
nal-News was the result. The paper is doing a fine business and bids fair 
to always continue to be a fine investment. In this connection I cannot 
help from paying due tribute to Mr. McNeely. Having been in the busi- 
ness so many years, I know the great burden that he took upon his shoul- 
ders when he first attempted to take the Journal out of the rut into which 
it seemed to have fallen. With the greatest industry and very close appli- 
cation to business and with a thorough knowledge of political affairs, he 
rapidly built up the decaying paper into the strong and sturdy Journal-News 
of today. To him is due almost the entire credit for this change. 

It must be conceded that the Courier is today the most perfect specimen 
of a wide-awake modern newspaper in this section of the country. It is 
ably edited in everj^ department. It is backed by unlimited capital, has an 
immense circulation and is one of the best paying pieces of property in the 
city and this only shows what energy and a thorough knowledge of the 
business and, more than all, the ability to keep up with the times and know 
what people want and expect, can do for a newspaper. But the early life 
of the Courier was a hard one. Time and again unsucessful attempts 
were made to keep up a democratic paper that should be the organ of the 
Pocket. But each time it failed. The paper was originally started in 1839 
under the name of the Southwestern Sentinel. Its editor was Jacob Page 
Chapman. As to his ability, he had it in plenty and as can be shown from 
the fact that he afterwards became one of the proprietors and was for many 


years managing editor of the Indianapolis Sentinel. The paper went out 
of existence in 1840 when Martin Van Buren was defeated. Until 1848 
there was no democratic paper here, when Mr. A. C. Huntington began the 
publication of the Vanderburg Democrat. It was a lively paper and soon 
had a widespread weekly circulation. But in 1850 it lost its prestige and 
went out of existence, and simply because of a division between the local 
political leaders of that party. How often does history repeat itself ! These 
same divisions which existed then have always existed and exist today, 
and the innumerable defeats which the democratic party has had in this city 
and county can be attributed to this and nothing else. This book not being 
partial in any sense, can treat of these matters from an outside standpoint 
and it takes these facts from history, and it can hardly be blamed for say- 
ing that just so long as these factions continue to exist the party will never 
gain a victory. In fact, it is a matter of common knowledge that republi- 
cans, no matter how hard they fight before elections, always get together 
at that time and vote the ticket, while the cliques in the democratic party 
seem to feel that the game of politics is best played by knifing each other, 
and this is a sad, sad mistake. Mr. Ben Stinson was the next one to unfurl 
the standard of democracy and established the Evansville Advertiser with 
Col. C. W. Hutchen as the first editor. He soon sold out to Col. C. K. 
Drew and Calvin Frary who, being republicans, at once changed its name 
to the Republican and then transferred it to Clark and McDonald, who ran 
it for about one year. They then sold out to William B. Baker, who al- 
lowed it to die again in 1851. In 1852 Charles P. Baymiller and J. W. 
Brewer started the publication of the tri-weekly called the "Times," but 
after the election this in turn stopped publication for want of support. In 
1852 Captain John B. Hall purchased the office of the Independent Pocket, 
a neutral paper, and he conducted it during the know-nothing times. The 
influence of the paper extended widely under his management, as he was a 
forceful writer and he compelled the respect of his most violent political 
adversaries. Six years after, the paper was sold to A. T. Whittlesey. He 
conducted it for a year and then sold it to Captain Nathan Willard and S. 
S. Whitehead. When the Civil war broke out. Captain Willard joined 
the Federal army and the newspaper suspended publication and was never 
revived. John H. Scott, in the summer of 1862, published a small weekly 
paper called the Gazette, but is soon got out of politics and was conducted 
as an independent paer, and finally as an advertising sheet. 

But in 1862 the democrats elected their entire ticket in Vanderburg 
County and before another general election the leaders of the party began 
to feel encouraged to start a daily paper, run on strictly democratic lines. 
There was a German paper here called the Volksblatt which was purchased 
and Robert S. Sproule was engaged as editor. This paper was called the 
Evansville Times. Mr. Sproule knew all the leading politicians of the state 
and had a thorough knowledge of the National political afifairs. He was 
aided by Ben Stinson, who was a splendid business manager and J. P. May- 


nard. But in spite of all, the paper went down and died in 1864, leaving 
the party with a printing office but no paper. It was during the following 
winter that Mr. Geo. W. Shanklin took hold of the plant and for a few weeks 
conducted a sprightly little sheet called The Evansville Dispatch. Its last 
appearance was a lead-bordered edition, after the murder of Abraham Lin- 
coln. In 1865 the democrats again took hold of the office which had been 
held by five trustees for the benefit of the original subscribers. This was 
turned over to Alfred Kierolf, William Holeman, J. B. Cabins and H. H. 
Hose. The trustees were Hon. John A. Reitz, Judge William F. Parrott, 
Hon. Thomas E. Garvin, Hon. Charles Denby and Richard Raleigh. The 
parties to whom the paper was sold were four practical printers, and they 
did their work so thoroughly that they were able to pay back the subscribers 
for stock and purchased the paper themselves. Soon Mr. Holeman was left 
the sole proprietor. He retained Robert A. Sproule and the paper took on 
a new lease of life, but it had contracted debts which it could not pay and 
a sale of the plant was made to Geo. W. Shanklin. Mr. Pickett of Ken- 
tucky came over to do the editorial work. He was a splendid writer and 
had a vast fund of information. While he was in control, Mr. John Gilbert 
Shanklin returned from Europe where he had been, and at once took hold 
with his brother in the management. In 1869 Messrs. C. and F. Lauenstein, 
who owned the Evansville Democrat, bought the Courier and under their 
management it soon became a valuable property. They took it in for $6,000 
and in less than five years it sold for three hundred per cent profit. They 
put Col. A. T. Whittlesey in charge and he continued with the paper until 
1872, but he disagreed with the proprietors on the question of politics and 
severed his connection with the paper and in 1873 it was sold to S. D. Terry 
& Co., who in 1874 transferred it to the Shanklin Brothers. In December, 
1876, it passed into the possession of Mr. John S. Reilly, a most competent 
and capable manager, who conducted the paper for many years. Hon. John 
G. Shanklin was elected in 1878, secretary of state, receiving the largest 
majority ever known to be given any candidate up to that time for that office 
and for two years he resided in Indianapolis. Later Mr. Geo. W. Shanklin 
resided in Washington and was correspondent for the Cincinnati News, 
but notwithstanding their other business, they virtually controlled the col- 
umns of the Courier for many years. Even in those days the paper had 
many political triumphs. It had the honor of nominating President Cleve- 
land as its choice for the presidential nomination in 1884 and after his in- 
auguration, it always endorsed his administration, even while such papers 
as the Indianapolis Sentinel and others were opposing him along the same 
lines to which I referred before and it was the first of the leading papers 
of the country to name him for a second term. It has always been known 
that the late John Gilbert Shanklin was entitled to the very highest recogni- 
tion from President Cleveland and it is said that he refused several very 
flattering offers. Finally he went to Washington for a conference with the 
president and it is said that political enemies who had been stung by his 


vigorous editorials, stabbed him in the back and prevented him from receiv- 
ing the position of minister to England. This of course is only hearsay, 
but there are many facts which go to prove that something of this kind must 
have been the case. 

Again the Courier had long years of vicissitudes and nothing but the 
indomitable pluck and the business acumen of Mr. J. S. Reilly kept it from 
going to the wall. While there may be many newspaper men of equal ability 
as managers, I am compelled to say that I never met the equal of Mr. Reilly. 
How he did it, I do not know, but I do know that to him is due all the credit 
for keeping the paper on its feet. Mr. S. Luck of Kentucky purchased an 
interest in the paper and for a time put new life into it, but the paper still 
seemed to be unsuccessful and it was finally sold to its present proprietors, 
Mr. Henry C. Murphy, P. P. Carroll and Howard Roosa. When they pur- 
chased the paper, it was being run at the Keller printing establishment on 
Locust street, but they soon moved into a splendid building on Main street, 
which was purchased by them and at once began a series of innovations 
which startled the staid old city to its very depths. They were the first to 
donate for everything. They inaugurated all sorts of prizes, among which 
were tours to Europe for successful candidates for popularity. They gave 
entertainments for the poor and in fact, have been the prime movers in every- 
thing of that kind ever since its present owners took hold. 

I would indeed feel this article incomplete, if I failed to pay a tribute to 
the memory of those two loving friends who first guided my steps along the 
paths of journalism, John G. and G. W. Shanklin. 

Both sleep a dreamless sleep, but so long as The Courier shall be known, 
their names will be linked with it. 

Given different environment, and their names would have been inscribed 
on the roll of fame side by side with the greatest editors of their day, but 
Evansville, a city that for years was wont to decrj' any home product, never 
gave them due appreciation. 

Purse-proud money grabbers had little use for them. They could not use 
them. They were not good politicians for they had too much innate man- 
hood to descend to the foul and dirty tactics of the "shrewd politician" of 

But as finished writers and deep thinkers they had few equals. They 
were masters of both clean out argument and satire, but their styles were 
different. George wielded the great broadsword, while Gil fancied the deli- 
cate rapier. 

They did not look on their paper as a money-making machine, but as a 
medium through which to make their birthplace one of the greatest cities in 
the west. The Courier was their pet, their pride, their all, and their great- 
est desire was to see it one of the great papers of the country. But all too 
early came their summons ; their hands are stilled, their mentality at rest for- 
ever. How sad to think, that in the clouds that roll between the pulsing 


present and the Great Unknown, there is not some little rift through which 
their souls may see the fulfillment of their dreams. 

As an example of what push will do, the present proprietors when they 
assumed the management, found a circulation of 4,500. After taking off all 
the delinquent and unpaid subscribers, there was left as a basis of circula- 
tion, about 2,500. Their present circulation is 18,016 and by this I mean its 
paid circulation. Surely the management should be congratulated on this 
wonderful progress. In 1891 there was a split in the republican party in 
this city and it seemed impossible for the leaders of the two factions to get 
together, strange as it may seem. The first thought of one faction was that 
they needed a good live organ to give their views on a political question of 
the day and for this purpose quite a number of them banded together to 
start one. They offered the Evening Tribune a large sum for its plant, but 
this was refused, as the paper was making money fast and its proprietor 
loved the business and saw no reason for stopping it, as it was stipulated 
that if he sold, he was not to start any other paper in this city for a term of 
years. Finally they bought an entirely new outfit and a first-class one in 
every respect and began the publication of the Evansville Standard. It was 
started in the Vickery block, the lower part being used for a business office 
and a press room and type setting department, while the upper part was 
used for the editorial offices. It started as a morning paper, but after a 
year's trial, it was decided to put it into an afternoon paper. The first editor 
was John T. McEnnis, a splendid writer and a thorough newspaper man in 
every sense of the word. He remained with the paper until it was put into 
the afternoon field, when he was succeeded by Edward B. Bell, also a most 
finished writer. The paper, however, lost money from the start and in the 
fall of 1893 it was sold to Col. Frank B. Posey and the late Andrew J. 
Clark, who published it in conjunction with John J. Newman, who owned 
the Germania, an afternoon German paper. Later both of these publications 
were sold to other newspapers and the outfit was scattered among them. 
Of all the German democratic papers in Indiana, there was not one better 
known than the Evansville Democrat. It was established in 1864, by Mr. 
Peter Maier, who conducted it until 1866 and then returned to his own 
profession. In 1867 Messrs. C. and F. Lauenstein purchased it and for six 
years conducted it with great ability. It made money from the very start 
and had great influence, not only in the large German population of this 
city, but all over the county, the farmers of which are mostly Germans. 
The elder brother was a physician by profession and in 1873 he sold his in- 
terest to the late Fred Lauenstein and left the city of Evansville for a three- 
years' tour of Gerrriany, the land of his birth. Mr. F. Lauenstein at once 
enlarged and improved his paper, moved into quarters at No. 306 upper Sec- 
ond street, which is now occupied by the rear of Strouse Brothers store, but 
which was then next to the Courier, which stood on the alley corner. In 
1876 Dr. Lauenstein returned from Europe and again went in with his 
brother, and conducted the publication of the Democrat until his death. In 


1883 and 1884 Herman Determan and Hans Scheller both had interests in 
the paper, but they sold the same to Mr. Lauenstein who continued it until 
death, under the name of F. Lauenstein & Co. His son was educated in the 
business and aside from that, received a splendid education abroad, so that 
at the death of his father, he was able to take entire charge of the paper, 
which he has conducted in a most able manner ever since. 

Among other papers published here were the Post, a German paper 
and the Bulletin, which was established by Charles F. Gould, an untiring 
worker and a caustic writer. Unfortunately he lacked the capital to pur- 
chase a paper commensurate with his ability, but for many years he pub- 
lished the Bulletin, which was known as being liberal on all questions. For 
a time he was assisted by his daughter, a young woman of great ability and 
whose poetic pieces were so good that they were published in many of the 
leading papers of the country. At the death of Mr. Gould the paper passed 
into the hands of legal heirs and his son conducted it under the name of the 
Star Bulletin. 

The Y. M. C. M. published a paper called the Advance, which was for 
the promotion of the association and it had a circulation of about 1,000. 
Mr. Geo. E. Clark, during the good days of the Ancient Order of United 
Workmen, published the Union Recorder, which was devoted to the prin- 
ciples of that order. It had quite a large circulation until the order began 
to decline. It was for some years a money-making paper and was ably edited, 
but went out of existence of course, when the order virtually lost its pres- 
tige. Mr. Qark also published the Advocate at one time. The Pilot, a demo- 
cratic journal, devoted to the interests of the colored people, existed for only 
a short time, as it could gain no prestige among the white population and a 
great majority of the colored people were naturally opposed to its policies. 
In the same year the Saturday Call was started. It was published at the 
printing house of Keller and Payne by Isaac Herr, editor. The paper was 
started to supply the demand for a society journal which at the same time 
would contain much of interest to members of secret orders. The circula- 
tion of this paper grew very rapidly as it was somewhat of a new departure 
and its list of contributors was quite large. Some of the best writers, 
especially among the ladies, contributed to its columns. The paper flour- 
ished for a time, but Mr. Herr on account of ill health was compelled to 
move away and he sold the paper to William C. Payne and Charles F. 
Worthington, who continued it for some time, but as its circulation began 
to decrease, they decided to stop its publication. 

On the nth day of October, 1873, W. T. King established the Evening 
Herald, an afternoon daily paper published in Evansville. It seemed to have 
been started at just the wrong time, but it might have been successful had 
King applied himself more assiduously to its interest. He was an actor by 
profession and a dramatic writer and seemed to think that if he furnished 
a lot of bright matter, the paper could run itself. In this, he lacked busi- 
ness acumen as it was shown, for in 1877 he was compelled to dispose of 


it and it was bought by Frank J. Ryan and Jacob Covert. This paper im- 
mediately jumped into a wide-spread circulation, but reverses came and it 
was soon seen that it could not be kept up, so in 1881 Mr. Percy V. Jones 
was taken in as a partner. Disagreements arose almost immediately and so 
violent was the antipathy, that something rarely seen in newspaper work 
soon appeared in its columns, the editorials written by Mr. Ryan all being 
signed with an R and those of Mr. Jones with a J. Only newspaper men 
can understand what the situation must have been. Soon Messrs. Ryan and 
Covert drew out and began the publication of an evening paper called the 
News. The rivalry between these two evening papers was very great and 
for a time the News threatened to wipe out the Tribune. To protect him- 
self, Mr. Jones purchased the News and at the same time his sister, Mrs. 
Alice Van Riper, formerly Miss Alice Jones, a beautiful and highly educated 
young woman, came to his aid and did not hesitate to assist not only in the 
editorial department, but in any other department and I well remember that 
on the afternoon that I first thought of buying the Tribune and went over 
to look at it, that I was very much surprised to see Mrs. Van Riper with 
her sleeves rolled up and a huge apron on, making up the mail on a table 
down in the basement, while all around were yelling newsboys and the clat- 
ter of that old Hoe press, was something awful. I think that it was during 
one of the periods at which the press broke down as usual, that I was first 
able to hear about the exact circulation of the Tribune-News. 

On March 5, 1886, the Tribune was purchased by Frank M. Gilbert, who 
had been publishing the Argus in the old Marble block on Main street. The 
success of the Argus had been phenomenal. It was built up of second-hand 
type that was bought by Thomas Collins of Mt. Vernon when a paper failed 
in Louisville. The chief asset of the paper was the splendid lot of type, the 
best outfit of type then in this city. A great deal of this type was unneces- 
sary, but the paper had no press and the first few issues were printed at the 
Courier office. The outfit was then moved to Marble Hall, a second press 
was bought and run by hand. But afterwards when J. C. Gutenberger and 
Will C. Payne, both deceased, went into partnership in a job printing estab- 
lishment in the rear, it used steam power. It published the first pink edition 
ever seen in Evansville and among the contributors were such men as Geo. 
Peck, who visited Mr. Gilbert here at the first Blue and Grey reunion ; Billy 
Nya, Kit Adams, Geo. Salisberry, Dr. Locke, the Dunbury news men, very 
well known humorists who had never known where Evansville was' located, 
but knew the Argus from its jokes. At the end of the second year, Mr. 
Kleiner's interest was bought and the Argus continued until the purchase of 
the Tribune as above. The new owner was taken sick with pneumonia on 
the very day that he bought it and for many weeks lay at the point of death. 
In fact, so low did he become at one time, that two of the papers in the city 
had his obituar>' written. But this is where they wasted good time. He at 
once got rid of the old Hoe press, brought over his good type from the Argus, 
killed that paper and secured the services of Charles G. Covert and several 


others of the brighter young men in Evansville. To say that the paper was 
a success is putting it mildly. At the end of the second year, it made over 
S 1,000 clear over the entire cost of the plant. It was conducted by the same 
owner for several years and a fine perfecting press was put in and every 
thing for a first-class paper. In fact, it was its boast that is was the best 
equipped newspaper plant of its size in the west. But reverses came through 
unfortunate endorsements and he found himself unable to pay his men. Up 
to that time, the Tribune had been known as the happy family. The one 
paper in which there was never any disagreement. 'At that time, two gentle- 
men from Warrick county bought the Tribune, put in a great many changes, 
made it a straight out democratic paper and continued it for one year, at 
which time it went back into Gilbert's possession, as he held a mortgage for 
a portion of the unpaid purchase money. Several papers had an eye on 
the plant and it was sold at midnight one night through Mr. Geo. A. Cunning- 
ham and it was not known by the company's proprietor until about an hour 
afterwards, when Mr. E. T. McNeely came up and shook hands with him 
that the Tribune was dead and gone forever, and had passed into the hands 
of the Evansville Journal Company. 





Evansville may well be called a city of schools. While much is due to 
the state of Indiana for this fact, yet still greater credit is due to our citi- 
zens who ever since the founding of the place, have felt that education was 
one of the greatest necessities of this life. In perhaps no other city of the 
same proportion of population, are there so many beautiful buildings of 
such great magnitude equipped with the very best facilities for instruction 
and where the pupils are instructed by teachers so well fitted to fill their 
positions. In fact, for years the schools of the city have been one of the 
greatest points of which our people have boasted and it is a fact that many 
of the best men, prominent and wealthiest here today, were brought here 
by the fact that by settling in Evansville heir children could obtain as good 
an education in every respect in any city in the world. This, of course, 
does not refer to the classical education, but as far as what the term "com- 
mon school education" implies, no city can excel Evansville. In these days 
it is almost impossible for a young person to exist without a good ordinary 
education. Our High School especially is the peer of any like institution 
in the country. But of these schools of today, we will treat later on and 
for the present will take up the early history of education in this section. 
Perry township was the first one to make a move under the state laws to 
organize a school. The original ordinance which might be called the father 
of the free school system, was passed in 1787 by the continental congress. 
It provided for a general and uniform system of common schools. In In- 
diana our statesmen and legislators have been so careful of educational 
finances entrusted to their care, that the school fund has today to^ its credit, 
millions of dollars, a greater fund perhaps than possessed by any other state 
in the Union. 'According to the law, a part of this fund is loaned to the 
state and the remainder is apportioned to the various counties. And the 
county auditors of this county are authorized to loan this fund to people, 
with the proper security, at 6 per cent interest. 

Referring to the first school, it was built on the site of the present 
County Orphan Asylum. The logs were not even hewn and there was no 
floor save mother earth. The benches of course, were like all others of 



that early day — ^what were termed puncheon benches. These were made by 
driving four posts into a slab of wood and on this rough surface there were 
no backs at all, but poor little youngsters were compelled to sit on them. 
Such a thing as a desk was an unknown quantity. There was not even a 
place in which to keep the books and every child was expected to take its 
.books home at the close of the school and bring them back the next day. 
In this rough log house the walls were not even chinked but there was an 
enormous fire place which kept it fairly warm and it must be remembered 
that in those days school was taught only in the winter, for in the summer 
each little one was expected to do his or her share of work at the home. 
The first teacher was a man named Thomas Trueman, who built his school 
house in 1819. He had been a sailor during the war of the Revolution and 
was rather an old man when he came here. He was also quite an odd char- 
acter. No one knew whether he was a bachelor or a widower. He seemed 
to have no friends or relatives, and never received any letters. He taught 
school during the winter, while in the summer he fished and hunted, living 
in a little leanto cabin that he had built for himself in the country. He 
died in German township and his last request was that his body be cre- 
mated in the log cabin. Among the simple German farmers who lived 
there, this was taken as an evidence of a mild insanity, yet they carried 
out his wishes. In 1824 George Thompson also taught a school in Perry 
township. This was located on the farm of Wash. Stinchfield. Many men 
who stand high in the history of Vanderburg County have since officiated 
as school trustees. 

Armstrong township was the next one to build a school in 1836. This 
stood where now stands the house of Mr. LeRoy Calvert. Like the other, 
it was built of untrimmed logs but it was slightly more pretentious, having 
actually a puncheon floor and clapboard roof. It also had a window. This 
was made by cutting out one log and fastening across it, a sheet of greased 
paper to admit light. It also went further along co-educational lines, but 
had its own ideas, as there were two large stick-and-mud fire places, one 
at each end, one being for the boys and the other for the girls. Any party 
caught at the wrong fire place got speedy punishment. One naturally won- 
ders how tuition was paid in those days, when money was almost an un- 
known thing. The teacher, whoever he might be, took the same pay as 
all the store keepers. That is he took furs, or wheat, corn or bacon and 
traded or sold what he did not use himself, to produce buyers. Scott town- 
ship had its first school house in 1835 on the old Staser farm. In Center 
township William Morgan taught in 1830. This school house was prob- 
ably the most primitive of all. It was a little log cabin on what is now 
known as the Hopkins farm. One of the scholars states that the boys all 
wore buckskin breeches and the girls buckskin aprons. A man named 
Trueman succeeded Mr. Morgan and he was the "Daddy Knight" of that 
period, it would seem. He was an inveterate eater of hickory nuts and 
employed most of his time between recitations in cracking them on these 


puncheon benches with a bench leg- which he would slip out of place and 
then put back when he was through. These teachers in Center township 
certainly did their duty, as some of the best families in Evansville of today, 
owe their ancestry to that part of the county. Up to this time there had 
been a small tuition, but Center township stared the first free school that ever 
existed in Vanderburg County. On the slope of Locust Hill Cemetery* 
there stood until lately, a small brick house, almost hidden by trees and 
vines. In this a man named Kilbock opened a free school to any who 
wished to attend, and kept it open three or four months in the year. 
Naturally he had some other means of resource, so while not teaching he 
traveled through the country mending clocks. In German township the 
first school was a mere hut with only one log left out to admit light, no 
paper being used to close it. In Evansville proper the pioneer teacher was 
Geo. Thompson, who taught in a small log cabin at First and Vine streets. 
Then William Price taught school in the old Baptist church near Alulberry 
and First. This building will be remembered by a great many citizens. It 
was the old log building that for so many years, stood in the rear of the 
yard of William Dean. Many years ago people looked on this old building 
with a sort of reverence, it being really one of the most prominent land 
marks connected with the history of this city and it is safe to say that very 
few thought that Mr. Dean would ever remove it. But he did so, although 
it did not show signs of decay. It seems to the writer that if Mr. Dean 
had wished it out of the way, the city should have purchased it and have 
taken it apart as has been done with thousands of other old buildings in 
various cities and placed it somewhere where it would remain until finally 
destroyed by the hands of Father Time. Those of us who understand how 
long those old buildings could stand the liand of time, could safely predict 
that our great-grandchildren would probably see it. It was in 1821 that the 
people of Evansville felt sufficiently wealthy to build an actual brick school 
house. They did so and employed Daniel Chute as teacher at a salary of 
$300 per year. It was built on the old court house square near the corner 
of 3rd and Main. It had a large fire place at each end and they were so 
huge that more light came through them than from the two small windows 
in the front of the building. Mr. Chute was a graduate of Dartmouth col- 
lege and a fine scholar. For twenty years he taught the youth of Evans- 
ville. He was a very pious man and had his own ideas about conducting 
a school. He opened with prayer, remaining standing with his own eyes 
open and a long fishing pole in his hand and if he caught a scholar in mis- 
chief during the prayer, he would call out "woe unto you John" and strike 
him smartly across the back with the long pole, after which he would take 
up the prayer where he left oflf. He also taught girls, in the old part of 
the school. One of the first teachers to come here from the East was Miss 
Filura French who began in 1832. She soon married Mr. John Shanklin 
and was the mother of John Gilbert Shanklin, Geo. W. Shanklin and Mrs. 
John Harlan, whose great intellect was well known to every one in this 


community. There have been quite a number of private schools in Evans- 
ville. Miss Julian Barnes opened one in 1838. Afterwards the Misses 
Martin, sisters of Vice President Martin, the Draper misses, who taught 
in the old building at the comer of 3d and Chestnut. Mr. Stafford, Mr. 
Greene, Miss Dean, Miss Abbot, Mr. Thompson and Miss Connington also 
taught. These were all private schools and gradually disappeared after 
the inauguration of the public school. Two of the most beloved women 
who ever lived here, were Miss Hooker and Miss Hough, who taught a 
private school for a time. Miss Hough had formerly been assistant in the 
public schools, but gave up her position to join her sister Miss Hooker in 
conducting this select school for girls only. Many of the matrons of to- 
day, the most shining lights in society, gained their first instructions from 
these two most estimable women. It must be remembered that in the early 
days of school teaching in this section, there was no standard of education 
by which a teacher could be judged. In fact, the trustees to whom they 
would go for a position would be themselves uneducated men. The 
standard in those days seemed to be the arithmetic and any one who could 
reach the rule of three, was proficient and if he could reach the double rule 
of three, he was considered an educated man. This rule of three meant 
that one must be able to multiply, divide and subtract three figures and of 
course the double rule meant six figures. In some cases where boys were 
bound- out to farmers, and the farmer agreed to educate them, the contract 
called for an education as far as the rule of three and this appears on some 
of the old records. Naturally when there were so few books, where pens 
and pencils were unknown and blotting paper was unheard of, we wonder 
how our ancestors got along. The blackboard was used everywhere. A 
primitive board stained with poke berry juice or the liquid of boiled oak 
leaves and on this the teacher demonstrated with something as near the 
chalk of the present day as could be had. A steel pen was almost un- 
known. Some of the very wealthy men of the east may have had them, 
but in this country even the teacher used a quill pen made from a goose 
feather and the children the same. The scarcity of the same goose at first 
caused them to use the feathers of the wild goose which were almost iden- 
tical. Every teacher was supposed to be an expert pen-maker and kept a 
very sharp knife for that purpose and one of the teacher's duties at the 
close of the day was to take the pens of his little band of scholars and 
trim them ready for the next day. As feathers were plentiful, the cost of 
the pens was nothing; and now for the blotting. The ink that they used 
was generally kept in a horn and from this fact arose that old term, "a, 
horn of ink," which has not been seen in years, and yet formerly was a 
common quotation. The teacher kept a large supply in a cow's horn at his 
desk if he had one, or hanging on the wall near where he sat and from 
this he supplied the little ink bottles made from the tops of the horns of 
cattle, that were used by the scholars. The common ink was made from 
poke berries but another ink a little more expensive but better, was made 


by boiling oak bark and sumach berries to which a Httle copperas was 
added. There was no recitation by classes, as there were not enough 
books to go around and each scholar recited his lesson separately. Nat- 
urally the crude attempts of the young pupils in penmanship consisted 
of more blots than letters and as there was no blotting paper, sand was 
used in its stead. This was a case not only in the schools, but in many 
of the stores, mills, etc. In fact, there are many of us now living here in 
Evansville who can remember when a business man kept a little box with 
a hole perforated like a pepper box of today, in which he kept his sand. 
As soon as his letter was finished, he sanded it, poured the surplus sand 
back into the box and the letter was ready. Another old habit even after 
the days of steel pens, was to stick the pens into a little box of fine shot 
and still later along, an Irish potato was used and a large one could be 
seen on the desk of any store in Evansville, with pens of all kinds sticking 
in it. 

Just at the present I will drop the matter of schools and come back to 
my own experience. It is unfortunate that in writing a book of this kind, 
that the author is at times compelled to say more or less about himself. 
But if he lacked these actual experiences, how could he be in a position to 
give an absolutely correct statement of early details. When I arrived in 
Evansville, there were exactly three schools. One was in the Neptune En- 
gine building where Charles Smith's barber shop is now, across from the 
late Masonic Hall. Another was in the building of the Engine Young 
America, which stood on the west corner of the Custom house square. 
The other was at the corner of Franklin street, and Fulton Avenue, where 
the beautiful park now exists. At that time I lived across from the Cus- 
tom house in the two-story brick next to the Vickery building. By some 
means, I was sent for a time, to the Neptune house building, which was 
shortly after given up. The engine, a hand engine of course, was kept 
down stairs and a verj^ narrow stairway lead to an upper room. In this 
were a few benches and small desks. The ropes by which the alarm bell 
was rung went through a closed place in the school room and I well re- 
member that on the opening day of school, there was a fire alarm and the 
awful rattling of these ropes against the planks made every child rush to 
the street thinking that the building was on fire. Soon I was shifted to 
the Young America Engine house, which was just across from my home. 
On the corner was an old marble yard. Where the Custom house stands, 
was a row of small cottages and in two of them lived Aunt Sallie Cover 
and Mrs. Greene, two of the first colored people who ever lived in Evans- 
ville. My troubles began the first day I went to school. I had just come 
from a little town in Connecticut, where I had been sent after my mother's 
death, where children were supposed to wear shoes and also collars at times, 
so I went to school with my shoes and a large turn-down collar. I got 
along very well until recess, after which I had no collar and the shoes had 
changed from black into a kind of russet. On this first eventful day some 



boy dubbed me "Yankee" which was soon changed to "Dandy" because I 
still had to wear a collar and that name stuck to me for many a long year. 
To this day I sometimes meet an old time citizen who calls me "Dandy" 
and shakes hands and we go back to those old days. Possibly a little ex- 
planation is due here. In the early days of Evansville, hardly a boy or girl 
ever wore any shoes in summer, except on Sunday, when they were sup- 
posed to be dressed for church. The boys of my age wore what we called 
hickory shirts and long pants as knickerbockers were then unknown. Dur- 
ing the winter most of the boys had coats, but in summer, a boy's ward- 
robe consisted of a shirt, a pair of pants, and an old straw hat, and for 
him to wear anything else was to stamp him as being too conceited to move 
along with the common horde and therefore a person to be licked on sight. 
Whatever agility I have in my old age is probably due to the exercise I 
got in running away from crowds of boys who would spy me with these 
collars and shoes on. 

It was shortly before the war that the citizens saw the necessity of 
having a large public school which pupils from all parts of the city could 
attend. What was then known as the Canal street house and now as the 
Mulberry street school was then built. That is, the middle building, that 
now stands on the lot. J. W. Knight for many long years known as Daddy 
Knight, was in charge virtually of the entire building, though he taught 
what is known as the grammar school. Mr. Knight was indeed a character. 
Long ago he passed to his reward, as have many of the old pupils that he 
taught. But I can remember when the one great wish of the growing boy 
in Evansville was that he would soon be big enough to lick Daddy Knight. . 
To accomplish that object seemed to be the one great point for which he 
was living. And the reason for this is easy to give. Mr. Knight seemed 
to have been brought up on the old code, "spare the rod and spoil the 
child" and if there was ever any child spoiled through his forgetfulness 
of this code, I don't remember who it could have been. I will say this, 
however, that stern as his measures were, he was a great educator. He 
was the most strict disciplinarian who ever taught here and his methods of 
giving punishment as varied as the sands of the sea. For instance if a boy 
missed a word in reading and then said that he did not see it, Mr. Knight 
would immediately yank him out of his seat and very forcibly rub his eyes 
so he could see better next time. If a disturbance began along a row of 
seats and he was unable to trace the offender, he never wasted any time, 
but began at the first seat and thrashed the occupants of the whole row 
with no partiality. He claimed by this means he always got the right one. 
He had a playful way of poking pupils in the ribs with his ruler. Some- 
times he lifted them out of their seats by their collars and sometimes by 
the hair. His one idea was to get them out of their seats. He, to the 
best of my recollection, used a ruler or the end of a hickory stick for other 
portions of the anatomy and as a reserve and one that struck fear to the 
heart of the pupil, was the raw hide. He only used this on rare occa- 


sions, however. Just a little incident. Sometimes he would wander from 
his duties and tell stories to the students and woe be to the one who did 
not listen attentively. One bright morning his little girl came over and 
whispered into his ear anci then went out. Mr. Knight then arose and 
said he would have to excuse himself as he had to hive a swarm of bees. 
He then went on to give a short history of the bee, and how easily they 
could be handled, provided the man knew how. He said he had hived bees 
all of his life, and one way to collect them nicely, was to go sprinkle 
them with a little water and transfer them from one hive to another with- 
out the least particle of danger. He then left. In about an hour he 
came back and with one gasp the entire school saw that the worthy pro- 
fessor had made a mistake in his connection. His face was covered with 
flour or some other stuff to allay inflammation, while out of the very swol- 
len surface there could be seen two tiny spots which were supposed to be 
his eyes. He said nothing further about bees and strange to say, there was 
not a solitary laugh in the entire school. If there had been, I am certain 
that the reserve raw hide would have been brought out. At first the boys 
and girls were taught together in the Canal street school house, but after- 
wards the girls were removed to another part of the building and co- 
education was never attempted again in the city, until the first High 
School was established. This was in a building first used as a church and 
now occupied by a whisky house at the corner of Second and Clark streets. 
Here it was that I graduated. There were only three in the graduating 
class. Prior to this time we had teachers of great ability at the Canal 
school house. Mr. S. T. Leavitt, Mr. C. P. Parsons, who married the 
sister of the late Mrs. James L. Orr, and Col. Charles H. Butterfield. who 
served many positions in this city in future years. 

The great head center of the school system of Evansville today lies in 
the head office building near the high school at the corner of Seventh and 
Vine streets. The high school building itself is supposed to be one of the 
most handsome school buildings in the city. But the pioneer school, the 
one which first marked the decision of the people of Evansville that it 
should eventually become a great school town, is the old Canal street school 
or what is now known as the Mulberry street school, which was spoken of 
in the beginning of this article. When first built it consisted of one large 
double brick building. It was surmounted by a tower and it stood in the 
center of a great yard. In the tower was a bell which was rung' regularly 
to call the children to school, and it also tapped the closing hours of work. 
As stated, the boys were on one side and the girls on the other and, until 
prior to the starting of the high school in the old Baptist church at the 
comer of Qark and Second, the advanced scholars were all taught in the 
upper room on the right hand side where Hon. Charles S. Butterfield was 
teacher, assisted in French and some of the other higher branches by Miss 
Hough, who afterwards taught a private school and who was a superbly 
educated Eastern woman. At various times during the reign of the old 


school attempts were made to teach German. There were various German 
teachers employed but, as a rule, they were not sucessful in the early day. 
As it is now, the teaching of German I am told is a part of the regular 
school work, and while it is optional with a scholar whether or not he or 
she takes German lessons, it still shows that the determination to intro- 
duced German into the public schools has never been given up. No one 
respects Germans more than the writer, and among the old German set- 
tlers and with the great majority of their descendants he has a most 
pleasant acquaintance, but years ago he said in his own papers that the teach- 
ing of a foreign language like German in public schools in America was 
wrong and gave as a reason that if any one went to Germany and tried to 
introduce the English language into the German schools, the Emperor 
would rise in horror and almost demand the hanging of the individual who 
would even suggest such a thing. What is sauce for the goose is sauce 
for the gander. It is well enough to understand German, but we are 
not Germans and Americans now, we are all Americans and the American 
language should be the one language taught in the public schools. Of 
course, some may say, "Why teach Greek, Latin and French?" They are 
taught, it is true, but they are taken up as side branches and as such can 
be taken or let alone, but in past years there was a very fixed determination 
on the part of the many Germans to force the language into the schools 
whether or not the people liked it. On just the same principle, exactly, and 
I challenge any one to deny it, if thousands of Italians or Russians came 
and located in Evansville they would have exactly the same right to at- 
tempt to force their language on to American pupils. At one time opinion 
was very much divided in this matter in Evansville, but everything was 
smoothed away and I am glad to know that the study of German is op- 
tional with pupils. 

But to return to those early day German teachers. The Germans, as 
a rule, did not send their boys and girls to school. They kept them at 
home and made them work and therefore the German teachers found 
themselves confronted by American boys and girls who cared nothing 
whatever for the German language but were full of mischief. Hence it 
was that the life of nearly every German teacher who came here in the 
'50s and '60s was a regular burden. 

Attempts were made at various times to beautify the great yard around 
the old Canal building, but again those mischievous boys frustrated all 
attempts to beautify. They would swing on the horizontal bar and play 
their various games, especially marbles, tops, etc., but trees set out served 
only as convenient corners for the good old game of "Bull pen," which was: 
played by having one boy in the center at whom any one of the boys at 
the four corners could throw. If he was hit by the ball and caught it, he 
had the right to take the place of the boy who threw it and the latter in turn 
went to the center where he got paid back with interest for every hard ball 
that he had thrown. There is many a staid old business man of today 


who can almost place his hands on different spots of his body where those 
old balls used to hit him. The schoolhouse soon became too small for the 
rapidly growing number of pupils and another building was put up by the 
side of the old school building and then still another until at one time there 
were five good-looking school buildings on the square. But the one nearest 
Third street was torn down and the central building was so changed in 
appearance that those who attended it in the olden day would hardly rec- 
ognize it. This collection of school buildings is the largest in the city. A 
beautiful street of brick formerly ran in front of it and the yard extended 
east, but now there is only a small alley in what was once the front of the 
buildings tnd the entrance is from the rear on Mulberry street. 

One of the most handsome buildings is the Carpenter school building, 
which has also been put up for many years. The ground was purchased 
from the Willard Carpenter estate and while it does not follow any partic- 
ular style of architecture, it is a beautiful and massive building with a 
large arched entrance. One trouble with all of the school buildings now in 
Evansville is that they were built before the people began to realize that 
there are styles in architecture as well as in anything else. It is only in 
the last two or three years that even those who built handsome dwellings 
have realized this fact, and thus it is that no school now standing in the 
city has any particular style of architecture. They are simply a compila- 
tion of various different designs, the point being to make the building solid 
and substantial, as well ventilated as possible, and then to finish the out- 
side after any style which best suited the ideas of the architect. Vast 
strides have been made in ventilation. I can remember that in the old 
Canal building absolutely the only ventilator was a square wooden box 
which ran up from the lower floor to the roof. In the front of this box 
was a hole almost like the boys make for their pigeonhouse holes and it was 
not very much larger. In the winter a redhot stove was kept going and 
as the wind struck the building from every side, absolutely the only ventila- 
tion for a room full of scholars and the only passage for the foul, vitiated 
air, which they took again and again into their lungs, was through this one 
small hole. How on earth they stood it no one knows, except that when 
these hearty youngsters of the old time got out they were more or less in 
the open air until bedtime. The Carpenter school building has a hand- 
some yard in front and is very near the central part of the city. It is at 
all times full. 

The Fulton avenue school building was erected to provide for the great 
mass of children in the lower part of the city in what was then still called 
Lamasco. It is a credit to that part of the city and consists of a large 
central building with a building on each side and can accommodate a great 
number of pupils. It is on Fulton avenue between Michigan and Virginia 

Another handsome building is the Chestnut school building, which is 
at the comer of Chestnut and Ninth. Its lines are beautiful and it is sur- 


mounted by a high tower, which gives it quite an imposing appearance. It, 
like the others, was brought into demand by the rapid settlement of the city 
in and around its locality. 

Centennial school building is on Twelfth avenue between Indiana and 
Illinois streets and, like the Fulton avenue school, has a large central build- 
ing and one on each side. The building is rather plain. There has been 
very little detail given to any ornamentation. This, of course, was built 
only when the school board saw that it was necessary to have another build- 
ing for that rapidly growing section. The ideas of all the boards have been 
to not spend money foolishly in building schoolhouses to make a show, but 
only to put them up when the actual needs of the community demanded 
them, and it must be remembered that their good judgment is very often 
brought into requisition and that about $225,000 are spent yearly to keep 
these schools running. One of the most beautiful school buildings in the 
city is the Chandler school which is located on Chandler avenue between 
Evans and Willard avenues. The architectural construction of this build- 
ing is somewhat different from any of the others, it having low double 
doors and a large arched entrance. It is massively constructed and will 
last for a great many years and will be sufficiently large for the use of the 
pupils in its vicinity for some time. 

The Columbia school building is just opposite Oakley street on Co- 
lumbia, and has been put up for some years. It has a beautiful growth 
of trees around it and a handsome yard. This was another of the "out- 
skirts" buildings that was put up to keep the scholars from taking too long 
walks to and from school. A beautiful building is the Delaware school 
building, which is on that street between Raleigh and Garvin streets. It 
has perhaps a more modern style of architecture, yet like the others it does 
not follow any known rules. Still it is a handsome and attractive build- 
ing. It would be very easy to give the number of pupils attending each 
one of these schools, and cost of the building, etc., but it is hardly neces- 
sary in a work of this kind to give so much detail. The Blankenburgh 
schaol building is again different from any of the others. It has a large 
archway but the tower is set back over the main part of the roof, one part 
of which is massive and the other is plain. It is substantial and has suffi- 
cient ground around it to make it attractive. The Baker Avenue school 
buildings are plain and substantial and are located at the corner of Michigan 
street and Baker avenue. The design is very plain. 

The Campbell schoolhouse takes the whole square between Emmet and 
Campbell streets and has beautiful grounds. A few years ago the building 
was struck by lightning and burned to the ground and during the time of its 
reconstruction, the scholars were placed in the Canal street building for 
recitations. A much more handsome edifice took the place of the one 

The High school is supposed, of course, to be the most beautiful and best 
equipped school of all. It consists of one main building and side buildings, 


which occupy a half a block while at the corner is the office building which 
is the headquarters as stated before, for all the schools in the city. The 
main entrance of the high school building is quite handsome and much 
care was taken with the interior of the building which is perfect in every 
detail. It is fitted up with everything necessary for modern instructions and 
as it is now, it has its own laboratories. In fact, it will compare favorably 
with any high school in the country. It has also its commercial departments. 
In fact, it is said with pride by many citizens, that one who has gone through 
the high school and graduated with honor, has received an education good 
enough to fit the pupil for any ordinary walk of life. Of course for the 
law, for medicine and many other of the professions, it is necessary to at- 
tend colleges devoted entirely to instruction in those branches, but all in- 
struction which is necessary in every day life, can be obtained in this build- 
ing. It was the writer's good fortune to attend the recent commencement 
exercises of the high school at the Grand Opera House and as he saw the 
great class who were graduating, heard the eloquent talks and saw the giv- 
ing out of the well-merited diplomas, he thought of the old days when the 
high school class graduated in the old Baptist Church at Second and Qark, 
when the high school class graduated with three pupils. That is, they were 
examined and after listening to a few remarks from the teacher, Mr. C. P. 
Parsons, they took their books and went home. If either one had been pre- 
sented with a diploma, he would probably have opened it to see if there was 
candy or something inside. This shows how the world does move. 

There is a Manual training school at the comer of Division and Sixth 
streets, which is a splendid institution. In it the scholars are not taught 
literature, but the various trades and a scholar has only to indicate his de- 
sire to take up a certain kind of work and he will be put at his favorite occu- 
pation with competent teachers to instruct him. The building is very mod- 
em, is heated by steam and cost some $45,000. Just in the rear of the high 
school on Sixth street it stands. The idea of this Manual training school 
originated with Maj. A. C. Rosencranz of this city and it is understood that 
he and his wife gave quite a large sum towards the founding of the insti- 
tution and the building of the school. 

There are four colored school buildings in the city of Evansville. One 
on Clark street, one on Governor, one on 3rd Ave., and one on 12th Ave. 
The Clark street school is the high school. It would seem to the writer, that 
in fonner pages of this book, he has treated of the race problem perhaps to 
a sufficient degree, yet this work is not written to be laid aside and forgotten, 
but it is the hope of all interested in it, that it will be preserved and that 
in after years, many may pick it up with a desire to understand thoroughly 
conditions in Evansville in the year of our Lord, 1910. 

Reverting to this race question, no one more than the writer desires to 
see the negro race elevated by education if it is possible, but in his opinion, 
the negro can never hope to achieve very much distinction along the higher 
lines of learning. For this reason there is just about so many of a negro 



population in each city and just about so many doctors, lawyers and other 
professionals, who can minister to their wants. There is little hope of the 
colored population growing larger and in fact it is now predicted by some 
of the brightest minds in the country, that from now on the race will de- 
crease. Hence it would seem far better for the negro as a race to follow 
the agricultural lines for which nature intended him, than to strive to excel 
in the professions. For instance a colored doctor can only hope to receive 
patients of his own color. 'A colored lawyer would not be asked to repre- 
sent a white man in the courts and so there is every year the danger of over- 
stocking the professions. It is a sad fact that education in some cases turns 
the head of the negro. And this fact is so well known to many of the best 
women in Evansville, that they turn aside and cross the street when they 
see a crowd of colored school girls approaching, knowing that the latter will 
never offer to get out of the way but occupy the entire sidewalk. And the 
same fact holds with many of the young colored men, though be it said to 
their credit many of them have enough innate politeness to always make way 
for a white woman, as they certainly would do for one of their own race. 
But the fact remains that for any sort of manual labor they seem to be 
emminently unfitted the moment they are through school and I wish to state 
the following fact as proving it. 

Not very long ago I went to hunt up an old colored woman, one of the 
hardest and best workers I ever saw, one whose honesty had never been 
questioned and who was known to half the ladies in the upper part of the 
city and who always had more calls for her labor than she could possibly 
comply with. I found her house and found her in the back yard bending 
over a wash tub, washing for dear life, and when I tried to make the engage- 
ment, she said that she had no time to go out any more. She said she had to 
stay at home and wash the "blessed day." All this time a young man of 
about 20 and a girl of about 18 years, had been swinging in a hammock at 
one side of the yard and I asked her who they were and she answered, 
"They are my two children." "Then," said I, "How it is that you have to 
slave over the wash tub in your old age, when you have a big husky son 
like that and a daughter plenty large enough to go out and work?" 

"Oh Law," said she, "They done been to the high school and graduated. 
You don't think they are going to do no more work do you?" 

I said in reply, "What do you expect them to do? Just sit around?" 

"Don't know," was her reply, "I only know that since they got their edu- 
cation they ain't never done no work and it don't seem like they ever is 
going to. I couldn't get that boy to do another to even beat a carpet, and 
that girl of mine wouldn't go out to work for nobody, no matter what wages 
she got." 

Now to arrive at facts, what good is this education doing these two young 
colored people ? It has simply made fools of them. It has made them think 
that they are better than their parents and that they are too good to work, 
and that the proper thing for them to do is to sit idly around the rest of 


their lives, while their poor mother slaves out her life over the wash tub. 

Among the presidents and superintendents of our school since 1853, 
have been some of the best citizens who ever resided here. That good man, 
Mr. H. Q. Wheeler, officiated from 1853 until 1865. Mr. Charles Lowen- 
stein. Dr. H. Q. Qoud, the late R. D. Richardson, Hon. J. Q. Wartman, John 
W. Roelker, Major Alex Gilchrist, Dr. E. Linthincum, Samuel G. Evans, 
William M. Akin, Jr., Newton Kelsay, Charles E. Scoville and others, have 
all been at the head of our school system here. The late R. F. Schor who 
was a schoolmate of the writer, also served at various times. As to the 
teachers in the Evansville schools, they certainly have been selected with 
rare good judgment. The position of a teacher is very trying, as it is his or 
her duty to daily govern children of all sorts of dispositions. There are good 
children naturally, and there are bad children naturally and they come by 
it by heredity and it is hard where so many different dispositions are brought 
before the teacher daily, to govern them and teach them correctly as a whole. 
The duties of a superintendent are also great, for on him falls the lot of 
harmonizing factions, of stopping all those petty disturbances which are 
sure to crop out, to get rid of troublesome elements and to create an inter- 
est in better work. It is the first duty," says a well known instructor, "to 
build up a strong teaching force and use the material that he finds already in 
the teaching department, rather than to attempt to strengthen the weak places 
by wholesale dismissals. Every teacher should be given an opportunity to 
improve after the need of that improvement has been found. When the 
teacher is found who for possibly lack of assimmilation, cannot reach the 
high standard, he or she should be dropped. There are some teachers who, 
although possessing even brilliant educations themselves, are unable to im- 
part knowledge to their pupils, while there are others who do not possess 
so much learning who seem to get rapidly in touch with their pupils and 
teach them with no trouble at all. It is in selecting the right teachers for the 
right places, that the work of the superintendent comes in. Certainly the 
progress made in Evansville public schools reflects great credit on all those 
connected with the management of the same." 









One of the greatest things that agitates any city of any size in this coun- 
try, is the labor problem and Evansville has among her citizens perhaps the 
greatest majority who belong to this class and by this I do not mean the 
average laborer who works for a daily wage with no thought for the future 
whatever, but the wa^fe earner who works in the different manufacturing 
plants and who as a rule owns his little home and tries to put by a little for 
a rainy day. Evansville is full of homes of this kind and on some of the 
streets, especially in the lower part of the city, there are whole squares of 
modest cottages each of which is owned by the mechanic or laboring man 
who lives in it. Considering thas vast army of men and the great amount 
of work that has been done in Evansville to give it is present proud position, 
one would naturally infer that there had never been labor troubles of any 
kind, and that the mere fact that the owning of their own homes showed 
that our laboring men were of a better class than the riff-rafif who flock 
to the great cities and are always a prime mover in any labor struggle. 
For many years there has been a Central Labor Union with its various 
different branches in this city and knowing personally nearly all the officials, 
I think I can say that they are fair and square men who do their best to 
keep on good terms with their employers but who naturally believe in that 
old adage, "The laborer is worthy of his hire." The man who could ex- 
pect a wage earner under the present high scale of prices of everything to 
eat and wear, to work on uncomplainingly under the same old wage rate 
that was in force years ago, would simply be foolish. These men must live 
and support their little families and the very fact that their work is hard 
and their hours long, makes it necessary for them to have substantial food. 
And they ought to be pqid good wages for every hour they put in. 

Speaking of these officials, the majority of them are of this class of 
men, though I regret to say that we have had in the past, many firebrands 


in the labor element who cared very little for the welfare of the laboring 
man but cared much more to be able to pose as his friend and in the mean- 
time, create all the trouble he could between him and his employer and 
still further in the meantime, draw a fat salary for so doing. I have never 
had very much use for walking delegates and I say this very frankly. 
For many years I personally employed a great many men and the only 
trouble that I ever had with them was through the agency of one man 
who was a natural firebrand, discontented, high tempered and intemperate, 
and a walking delegate who did not understand the most common rules of 
courtesy. But taking it all in all and considering the number of the labor- 
ing class here, the real strikes have been few and far between. And there 
never has been any real suffering as a result. I am told that in one or two 
branches of industry here, the wages are not what they ought to be, but of 
course I am not in a position to judge as to this. I believe that the feeling 
between employer and employee in this city is better perhaps than in any 
city of the size of Evansville, in this country. It is safe to say that there 
never was a good strike, just as there has never been a good law suit. 
They both cost money and one side or the other, always suffers. At this 
time there is an open rupture in this city and conservative people think 
that it will be of short duration. It seems that after being apart for many 
years, the employers of labor being daily met with the saying that labor 
had a right to organize, became imbued with the belief that they also had 
the same right and this resulted in the formation of the Master Build- 
ers' Association, which is a combination of every branch of trade which 
takes part in the building of a house. It would seem at a glance that this 
is a good move, for two bodies of men represented by two heads, can very 
naturally settle up the matter much more quickly than if a dozen different 
organizations are interested in the matter. At this writing it seems that 
both sides will shortly get together and it would be a safe prediction to say 
that this step will be an aid in preventing any strikes in the future, because 
where both sides are thoroughly organized, they will give each other a cer- 
tain amount of respect and be more ready to compromise on points that 
are in dispute. The Evansville workmen take great pride in their organiza- 
tions and they are all of wonderful benefit to those who happen to be out 
of work, for while there is never any very large sum in the treasury to 
be wasted on men who do not care to work and it is sad to say that there 
are some such men in all organizations, there is still a sufficient sum to 
keep the wolf from the door and unless a strike is very long protracted, 
there is no real want. Labor day in Evansville has grown to be a great 
affair and the parades given by these men who earn their money by the 
sweat of their brows, reflect great credit upon them. Some of the floats 
that appear in their yearly parades, are beautifully designed and it is a 
pleasant sight to see the bone and sinew of the city, marching to the mar- 
tial strains of the music, to enjoy their day of outing with their wives and 
children and their sweethearts. 


Labor day is comparatively a modern institution, but it is safe to say 
that it will never be given up and just a word here before dismissing this 
subject. The writer has many warm friends among the laboring classes 
and to them he would say that when any disputes arises, when they think 
that they are wronged, and feel that they are entitled to perhaps better 
wages, shorter hours or whatever they deem fit, they should remember that 
it is not the man who can make the longest and loudest speech; who can 
most bitterly inveigh against capital, who can speak most pathetically of the 
wrongs of the "Poor laboring man" who is the best to send to represent 
them. The cool level-headed man who knows what his work is worth and 
knows conditions and can understand that an employer, though ostensibly 
doing a large and paying business, may still be doing it at a very small 
profit, is by all means the man to send. To such a man an employer will 
always tell the truth. He will meet him man to man and together they can 
adjust their differences. But the other man who goes in full of fight, of 
talk and sometimes full of something else, rubs the employer the wrong 
way. He very often makes the employer hesitate in doing what he really 
would like to do for his employees. I speak from my own experience and 
I know that this is the experience of many others. 

In a recent advertisement of the city of Evansville which has been 
sent broadcast, the term is used, in bold type, "Labor troubles are prac- 
tically unknown." As stated above, this is so nearly a fact that no ques- 
tion as to its verity will arise. With the boom which is certain to strike 
Evansville with work for everyone at good wages, with real estate values 
growing greater and taxes less, it is hoped that we can soon be able to leave 
out the work "practically" and state boldly to the world, "Labor troubles 
unknown." In this same printed matter to which I refer, the expression 
is used, "There are three absolute essentials to the successful conducting 
of all industrial enterprises. These are, fuel, labor and transportation." 
The facts given above being based on absolute truth will certainly show 
to anyone that the city of Evansville has the three absolute essentials. 

Maps are a great thing. A man does not build a little cottage or a 
stable, without a plan, which is virtually a map and a map is of wondrous 
use in showing the location of Indiana. For that reason a map of the 
state of Indiana and a portion of the surrounding states, has been given 
a prominent place in this work. If there were room to show the map of 
the whole United States, that is, the part east of the Rocky mountains, 
for they will always be a barrier beween the United States proper and the 
far west, it would show that Evansville occupies more nearly a central 
position in a map of the United States, than any other city of any con- 
sequence. There are expert manipulators of maps who are able, by a few 
well-drawn lines, to make a map show almost anything, but let them dis- 
tort the map of the United States as they may, they cannot help showing 
that this city holds the central position. This map also shows the vast area 
of grain counry and tobacco country and underneath the great beds of coal 


to which we have so often referred. If there are any who still belie\»6 
that natural gas is the proper fuel, and of course everyone believes in oil, 
it is a fact which can be pointed to with pride, that either one can be 
brought into the city of Evansville in vast quantities by piping, less than 
20 miles. In these days of piping, this would be considered a small task. 
It would take page after page of this part of this work, to tell of the 
wonderful manufacturing industries of Evansville. They will probably 
be handled in speaking of the men who have made them what they are, but 
many do not know that Evansville is the center of one of the greatest 
wheat belts in the world and that its milling industries are far beyond the 
knowledge of people who have lived here for years and yet never have 
realized to what extent flour is made. 


While Evansville has often been called a wide-open town, a Dutch 
town, a beer-drinking town, it does not now deserve any of these names 
and it is a well-known fact that the past several administrations have done 
very much to bring about a better standard of morals in the city. Several 
years ago and for many years prior to that period, Evansville had been 
virtually a wide-open towTi, which, being interpreted, meant that the saloons 
were open night and day and all day Sunday, that all sorts of dance halls 
were allowed, that wine rooms in the back room of saloons were permit- 
ted, that women of loose character were allowed to ride and flaunt their 
finery on any street, that games of poker, craps and other games could be 
indulged in, yet when the change finally came there was a determination 
easy to be seen on the part of the majority of our citizens, to stop this and 
run the place on a more moral plan. About the first step was to order the 
saloons to be closed at 11 o'clock each night and to remain closed on Sun- 
day. This order was received with a smile by many of the saloon keepers, 
who could not eralize that such a step could ever be carried out in "Beer- 
drinking Evansville." They assumed to comply with the law, but the side 
doors were open and as much drinking went on as ever. It was also about 
this time that the slot machines were in full sway and the earnings of the 
laboring element went into these pitfalls from which there was absolutely 
no chance for one to get his money back, as the odds were always in favor 
of the machine. Case after case was brought up and a series of fines soon 
convinced these men that the law, as it stood on the statute books of the 
state, would be enforced. To Hon. John W. Boehne, at present represent- 
ing this district in Congress, much credit is due. He was elected and his 
pledge was that he would make this a city with the lid down. His disas- 
trous defeat was predicted on every side but his election showed that a great 
many of the much-abused saloon keepers were only too glad to be allowed 
to go to bed at a reasonable hour and to get a chance to go out with their 
families on Sunday, instead of being cooped up in their saloons. The wine 


rooms were abolished at once and heavy fines were put against those who 
tried to still maintain them. Gambling rooms were abolished at once and 
orders were given that fast women should not be seen on the streets to- 
gether. It must not be imagined that all this change was brought about 
without a great deal of difficulty. All sorts of schemes were gotten up to 
evade the law but Mayor Boehne, having made up his mind that the citizens 
elected him to bring about certain changes, never hesitated in his duty and 
a succession of fines which were rapidly imposed soon brought delinquents 
to an idea that the law was not the farce that they had always supposed it 
to be. After Mr. Boehne was elected by the people to a seat in Congress, 
his mantle fell on equally good shoulders, and the Hon. John J. Nolan, in 
spite of many rumors that he would take ofiE the lid, was as steadfast in 
his desire to make Evans ville as nearly a moral city as possible as was Mr. 
Boehne. Mr. Heilman, the present mayor, was elected on a platform 
which calls for the same observations of the state laws and it is to his 
credit that he is striving to enforce them. It is only just to say that it is a 
greater task for Mr. Heilman, as he has always been a jovial, good-hearted 
fellow who numbered his friends among all classes of people and he lacks 
the sternness of character which is one of the attributes of Mr. Boehne. 
But be this as it may, the right step has been taken and it has met with the 
approval of the people of Evansville and without a doubt the lid will be 
kept on as it is for many years to come. There is a wholesale purification 
going on in most of the great cities of this country and a more implicit 
obedience to the laws is being demanded, and while it cannot by any means 
be called a fanatical wave, it is a moral wave, and is the best thing that 
ever happened in any community. To those who have reached mature years 
and have the strength of character to keep away from temptation, some 
of these things do not mean much, but it must be remembered that we have 
children coming up to take our places in this world and it is our duty as 
parents and as honest men to throw around them every safeguard that is 


One of the greatest features of any great city is its system of lighting 
and also its heating, though regarding this latter part it is a matter which 
has only very recently come up in the city of Evansville. The great cities 
all over the world today are striving with each other in these days of elec- 
tricity to make their streets so beautiful at night that they will be one pan- 
orama of attraction and thereby attract and induce to stay in the cities, over 
night, untold thousands, yes, millions, of people, who in the old days went 
to small towns and at the approach of sunset, hitched up their wagons and 
drove home. In those early days, the approach of night meant the absolute 
cessation of business. All shopping was done during the day, as no house- 
wife ever cared to examine goods by the light of an old candle of some 
kind and, later on, a smoking oil lamp, so that in the early days of Evans- 


ville, comparatively speaking, it was decided that the city should be well 
lighted, no matter what other improvements they made, and in 1852 the 
legislature of Indiana granted a charter to the Evansville Gas Works, the 
value of the original stock being valued at $50,000. The gas works was 
built by John Jeffrey & Co., contractors, and the first officers were Clarence 
J. Keats, president, John J. Chandler, secretary. The Chandler family 
have always been identified with gas stock and are to this day. While the 
works were being built, Hon. James G. Jones was mayor and it was only five 
years after the city had been incorporated. The gas company began with 
only one hundred and fifteen consumers and there were many who held 
back and were disposed to disparage the new light, and some of them who 
ought to have had better sense even claimed that it was an unsafe light 
and liable to explode at any time. It would be amusing if some of those 
old chronic kickers of the old day could now be brought face to face with 
modern inventions in gas and electricity. However, there were too many 
pf them, just as there have always been too many chronic kickers in Evans- 
ville and the early history of the company was disastrous. For quite a 
number of years there was not enough gas sold to meet expenses, but as the 
city began to grow rapidly, the investment soon became a paying one and 
the capital of the works has increased rapidly, until now the quality of the 
gas is first class and the wants of the public have been quickly met and 
perhaps the only bar in the march of improvement is that electricity is so 
rapidly taking the place of gas for lighting purposes. But it must be re- 
membered that gas will be used for a great many years for common pur- 
poses and that at present there is not any agent known which can take its 
place. When one stops to think of the cleanliness and the quickness with 
which a fire can be made and soon be ready for cooking in a gas stove, it 
would seem foolish for any except large families to dally with any other 
fuel for cooking. Wood has gone to a price that makes it prohibitory, 
while coal, even at its low price in Evansville, is a filthy article to use in 
cooking. Again, the gas stove is being constantly improved and is far dif- 
ferent from the old article of even ten years ago, which was apt to blow up 
at any time, though the cases of explosions of gas stoves are few and far 
between. For a long time our people were content to use gas for lighting 
purposes, but the rapidity with which the electricity was being put into use 
in other cities made even the backward ones believe that electric lighting 
would be a good thing for Evansville. So in the year 1884 the first elec- 
tric lighting plant was established and soon afterwards it consolidated with 
the gas company under the name of The Evansville Gas and Electric Light 
Company. The officers of the old company were very conservative men: 
F. J. Reitz, president, R. K. Dunkerson, vice president, Samuel Bayard, 
treasurer, and Thomas E. Garvin, R. K. Dunkerson, F. J. Reitz, Samuel 
Bayard and William Heilman, directors. At the end of the first year there 
were about sixteen hundred gas consumers and some fifty electric light con- 
sumers. Evansville went through the regular trials of all other cities in 


the way of finding the correct hghts for her streets. The first electric light 
towers and arches will be remembered. They were the subject of endless 
discussion, many predicting that no lights on towers would ever give the 
correct lighting on the surface of the streets and sidewalks below, and this 
was soon found to be a fact. Evansville being a city of trees, the light 
poured down from the arches on to the trees and made the sidewalks ab- 
solutely dense in their blackness. True, one might walk in the center of 
the street and get light, but sidewalks and not streets are made for walk- 
ing. All sorts of experiments were tried, until finally the old towers were 
taken down, as were also the great majority of electric arches, and the city 
is now lighted by street corner lamps which are well and carefully attended 
to and with the exception of some of the outer streets where lamps have not 
been placed on comers, this is a remarkably well-lighted city. As with 
everything else, the curse of politics had its hand in the Gas and Electric 
Light Company and during times when contracts were to be made, it has 
been said that various itching palms had to be greased. Of this it is need- 
less to say anything. That kind of palms is so common in the city as to 
not create much interest one way or the other. Of late another aspirant 
for public favor has sprung into existence, the Evansville Public Service 
Company, which is now building its headquarters on Canal, near Sixth and 
Mulberry. This company proposes not only to furnish electricity at a very 
low rate, but to pipe steam heat all over the central portions of the city and 
even to the suburbs when the proper time comes. From the names of the 
directory it is naturally to be assumed that this company will do all it prom- 
ises, and it has gained, after a short struggle, the right to lay its mains 
through certain alleys and unimproved streets. Just as in the old days, 
when a great many of the old chronics could not see the utility of putting 
in gas when the first gas company was struggling for existence, so today 
there are many men lacking in gray matter who cannot see the great advan- 
tage of steam heat. It would seem that any man with an ordinary grain 
of sense could understand that a steam heating plant, buying its fuel and 
producing material in vast quantities, can produce a uniform heat at a far 
less rate than one possibly could in a furnace. Again this heat will be 
so arranged tliat it can be turned on at a moment's notice while those who 
have furnaces or even those who rely on stoves and fireplaces, know what 
it means to go and get kindling and coal and make up fires just when it was 
not anticipated that they would be needed. They also know the cost of a 
man to take care of a furnace and they know how heedless the average 
negro furnace-tender is, but they do not know that there is hardly one of 
them who does not almost daily, during the winter, place his house in 
danger of a fire through red-hot pipes. They also know that the coal fur- 
nace at best is dirty, that the pipes rust and clog with soot, that great piles 
of ashes must be taken out and, after all that, some negro must be paid to 
haul the ashes away to the dump. This is not intended in any way as a 
send-ofif for the new Public Service Company, but is simply a plain state- 


ment of the difference between making your own heat and buying heat 
already made from a company whose business is the manufacture of the said 
heat. It is safe to say that this company will grow to be one of the greatest 
aids in the progress of Evansville and the more encouragement they get 
the greater will be their facilities for furnishing heat and light at a very 
low cost. It will be but natural, where competition is in the field, that the 
old rule of reducing prices will hold good and that whatever prices the new 
company makes will be promptly met by the old gas company and, in that 
event, our citizens will be the gainers. 











It is indeed a task to write a military history of the city of Evansville 
and this county, for the simple reason that an account of what was done 
by the patriotic people who laid down their work and answered the call 
of their country, must consist of more or less dry detail. For no volume 
would be large enough to contain an account of the many noble deeds 
and acts of courage performed by these men. This being the case, about 
all that the author can do is to give the name of each volunteer, the time 
when he was sworn in and the time when mustered out. Again these 
matters have been fully treated of in every book that has been gotten out 
pertaining to this section, in many books of military history, in many 
government reports that have been sent out, etc, etc., until they have be- 
come a matter of common history and to individualize and speak of the 
deeds of the few would be a great injustice to some of the humbler ones 
who worked just as hard and withstood as many hardships for the cause 
that they deemed to be right. But I am determined that the state of In- 
diana as far as my pen may assist, shall be given due credit for having 
always been ready to do more than her share. In every war in which 
the United States took part, the people of this state have been the first 
to respond to the call to arms and their proportion has been far greater 
than that of the Eastern states much more thickly settled, and where 
most of the war talk has always been made. I know the truth whereby 
I speak, when I say that in the face of great danger the rockribbed state 
of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Connecticut and the other states 
settled by the stern pilgrim fathers, were always ready to talk of what 
wonders they would perform and how they would wipe the enemies of the 
country from the face of the earth, but when it came to action, the young 



men were too prone to think of father's farm, as about the best place 
for them to stay. In other words, dollars and cents cut a great deal 
more figure with them than the condition of the country. They are the 
ones who today imagine that the last war, the Civil war, is not yet over. 
They are the ones who will tell you that a northern man cannot go 
south and be treated with common decency, while I say that any man 
from no matter what part of the north he may come, may go to any 
part of the south and if he has any gentlemanly instincts whatever, he 
will be taken into the hearts of the southern people and treated as one 
of them. The trouble with these fire-eating talkers is that the majority 
of them were raised in a tight-fisted school which is almost unknown to 
the southern man. The average New Englander is very suspicious. He 
was brought up in a country where people are shallow-minded. His an- 
cestors who were proud to say they descended from the pilgrim fathers, 
do not seem to remember that these same pilgrim fathers were a set of 
thin-lipped bigoted people without one spark of rich red blood in their 
veins who deemed that the way to live a correct life was to mortify the 
flesh and never smile, never dare to enjoy anything, never eat what they 
wished, but confine themselves to the most scanty diet. Never allow 
their wives to wear even a ribbon, because that would be vanity. Unfor- 
tunately they looked on their God as a kind of severe master (and not a 
loving father) who wished them to live this life with as little enjoyment 
as they could possibly get out of it. This may be very severe, but it is 
absolutely true. Within a period of three years during my younger life, 
I have been in a Connecticut village where not a fire was allowed to 
be started on Sunday, where Sunday began at six o'clock on Saturday 
evening and from that time on until Sunday evening at the same hour, 
the man who smiled or acted in any way as if he was enjoying life, was 
looked on as a sinner. Not understanding these rules, I laughed on one 
Sunday at sometliing which struck me as being rather ludicrous and was 
immediately called down by a young man cousin who asked me if I did 
not know that it was wrong to laugh on Sunday. This is an absolute 
fact. During the years of which I speak, I was in the south, where on 
Sunday the southern women wear their brightest and most beautiful 
dresses, where, with their husbands, brothers and mothers, they walked 
out, enjoying the balmy air to its fullest extent and Sunday to them was a 
day on which they were expected to look their best and enjoy the delights 
of nature which their Father in Heaven had given them. This may be 
a long preamble, but it is only to illustrate the difference between the 
north and the south and to show how strange it was that when the coun- 
try was in peril, these wonderful Eastern fire-eaters did not respond with 
the same alacrity as did our southern Indiana people who had been taught 
to look on the southern people almost as brothers. With the Indiana 
people it was a case of what they deemed their duty. They did not feel 
that hatred towards the south which cropped out in the rock-ribbed east 


and in the far north. Today they are the ones who have forgotten that 
there has been a war and who are the first to recognize that when an enemy 
is completely vanquished and admits it, the gentlemanly thing to do is to 
take him by the hand and say "Let bygones be bygones and let us forget 
it." It must not be understood that I am taking the part of those who 
fought against the flag of our country. I simply take the view of a man 
of the world who has been all over the north and the south and has had 
a chance to feel the public pulse in both sections. Today in Evansville 
the north and south have intermarried. Fathers and sons work side by 
side and their interests are all common. At times we hear spiteful sayings 
and usually from some man who served in the northern army, for the 
southern people long ago learned to say nothing. When I hear one of 
these men telling his wondrous tales about what he did in whipping the 
d — rebels I invariably set him down as a man who was a clerk for some 
sutler, drove a wagon team, or was in the loo-days service and never saw 
a fight or shot ofif a gim. Perhaps one reason for my making this very 
plain statement, is because I have been bored to death in my newspaper 
career on several occasions, by a man who persisted in telling me how he 
laid in the trenches when his comrades were shot down at his side, etc., etc., 
and how he rushed to the call of his country and gave up his very life's 
blood for her, when I know absolutely without contradiction, and can 
prove, that he never was nearer the scene of war than a little town in Ken- 
tucky and never even saw a battle from afar ofif. So again I wish to say, 
"Let every meed of praise be given to those noble men who followed what 
they deemed to be their line of duty, who left their homes and families and 
went to the front to sufifer untold privations and lay down their lives for 
their country's flag." They deserve all manner of praise and it will not 
be many long years before the last of them is placed beneath the sod of 
the land for which he gave up so much, and the last taps sounded over his 
grave. Year by year the ranks are getting thinner and in a natural course 
of events, it cannot be so very long until most of them are gone. But 
their deeds have been written up in history and their memory will never 
be forgotten. To show that from the very start, that Evansville was 
ready to do her share, the official records show that in June, 1846, for the 
Mexican war two companies were formed at Evansville, and as to the 
state of Indiana, there were more volunteers than the quota called for and 
many men were compelled to go to Kentucky and Ohio to enlist from 
those states. The number of privates in each Indiana company had been 
limited by the president, to 80, with one captain, one first and one second 
lieutenant, four corporals and two musicians which made 93 men in each 
company. At that time David Reynolds was general of the Indiana militia. 
There seems to be an impression that the number of privates in the corrt- 
panies was limited to 64" but Honorable W. M. Marcy, secretary of war, 
had at that time written to James Whitcomb, who was then governor of 
Indiana, that the 64 privates did not apply to the volunteers requested 


from the state of Indiana. The pay was 25c per day in lieu of rations 
and also his daily pay of 30c making 55c per day, while he was going with 
his company to the place of rendezvous. It was supposed to be 20 miles 
of foot traveling. The pay after being mustered in was for each private, 
musician, and non-commissioned officer, $3.50 per month or $42 per year 
in lieu of clothing. To bear out what I have said about Indiana, a paper 
published June 12, 1846, says: "The complement of 30 companies were 
commissioned. No doubt exists that the number of men which cannot 
be received, will be very large — probably equal the number which can be 
received. Well done Indiana." In looking over the old work from which 
I get these facts, I find that the sutlers were about as bad in those early 
days as they were during the Civil war. A letter of a soldier states that 
he has been charged loc for a single sheet of letter paper. In those days 
a ream of paper cost $3. This would make the sutler get $48 per ream. 
Certainly a very fair profit. He says that other articles are sold in pro- 
portion. He calls on the government which he says has the credit of pro- 
viding for the wants of her soldiers and says that it ought to do something 
and not allow them to be subject to such outrageous impositions. Many 
sutlers and sutlers' clerks are drawing pensions today. A great many of 
those who went to the war of Mexico, were taken sick almost as soon as 
they got there. The change in the climate was too much for them and 
many deaths occurred. Almost every letter from the soldiers spoke first 
of the sickness in camp. One Indiana regiment on the Rio Grande in the 
month of September had 243 in the hospital at once. A letter from an 
officer of the 3rd Indiana, states that a shipload of discharged Indianians 
was lost in crossing the gulf. They were all men who had been discharged 
from the service on account of bad health. This writer says, "This cam- 
paign is causing Indiana some of her finest young men. We have buried 
at least 100 of them here. An active campaign would not cost more lives. 
The genuine horrors of war are seen in the hospitals and camps and not 
on the field of battle. A few weeks ago we had 1400 sick men in the hos- 
pitals of this place, besides the sick who are in the regimental hospital. To 
mend the matter, our medicine chest is empty. Really, things are con- 
ducted here on a most beautiful system." It must have been that even in 
those days there was entirely too much red tape and graft. 

In 1847 the whole state was stirred up by an article in a southern 
paper giving a description of .the battle of Buena Vista. The glory of 
the victory was given to their troops and the troops of Indiana were 
stamped with cowardliness and flight. The facts are that the battle was 
begim by Indiana riflemen who sustained the attack of two battalions for 
more than six hours. The second Indiana was then led against the Mexi- 
cans and were repulsed. The Arkansas and Kentucky cavalry retired from 
the left without striking a blow. The Illinois men were led to the left and 
repulsed and the Mississippi regiment was repulsed. Thus the entire line 
except the 3rd Indiana was broken and no decisive advantage given. This 


report was found to be absolutely correct and at once vindicated the state 
from the stain that had been put upon it. In July of 1848 congress passed 
an act allowing three months extra pay for all who had served during the 
Mexican war. As compared with the pensions of the present day, this 
sounds almost ludicrous. To give an idea of the difference between the 
past and the present, I wish to quote the bill of expenses of the General 
of the state of Indiana. He had no clerk or assistant of any kind. The 
following is his itemized expense account : 

Office rent, $43.33 ; lights and stationery furnished, $28.75 '< expenses 
while organizing the 4th regiment, $56; expense while organizing the 5th 
regiment, $69. Total, $197.08. Salary $100. Amount paid out from 
salary, $97.08. This man went to work traveling all around, making all 
sorts of tiresome trips and living on the roughest kind of diet, and yet his 
total expense, salary and all, was $197. Compare this with a few of the 
senate appropriations of today. For tooth brushes, water from every 
spring in the country, shoe polish, manicuring nails and a thousand and 
one unnecessary and personal expenses and now a professional masseur, 
which have been charged up to the government of the United States and 
are being paid for by our tax payers and one can see the diflference between 
the old times and the present. Before dismissing this subject, mark my 
words, "The people will not stand this forever. Sooner or later there will 
be an uprising and these orators who so loudly proclaim themselves the 
servants of the people and who go to Washington with the idea that it 
is the duty of the American people to pay for the paring of their toe nails 
and the healing of their bunions, will get a lesson that they will not soon 

Evansville's part in military history did not begin however, with the 
Mexican war, for in 1812 many of the old pioneers laid aside their hunting 
and fishing and trapping and cast their lot with General Harrison. Their 
greatest battle was the battle of Tippecanoe. Others went with the Ken- 
tucky riflemen to New Orleans where they served under General Jack- 
son, who defeated the great General Packenham. This virtually closed 
their work in the south and there being no boats at all, they walked the 
entire way home, sleeping in the woods and living on game. The people 
of Evansville did not know that there had been even a battle until these 
men came back. The next war was the Creek war in 1836 and the Sem- 
inole war at about the same time, but there is no record that any one from 
this section was engaged in either of these wars. The Seminole war was 
confined almost completely to Florida and the states near there. The 
Seminoles were natives of the Florida country and at the edge of my little 
place in Florida is an immense Indian mound, from which Seminole relics 
can be had at any time one chooses to dig for them. But when the Mexi- 
can war began. Captain William Walker organized a company of 100 men 
which left here for New'Albany on the 7th of June, 1846. Mr. John Lane, 
so well known at that time and afterwards known as General Lane left 


his seat in the state senate to drill under Captain Walker. All Indiana 
regiments left New Albany together and after stopping at New Orleans 
crossed the gulf and went into camp. Captain Tucker's Company K was 
made up of Evansville men. At the battle of Buena Vista, the Second 
Indiana met with great loss and it was there that Captain Walker was 

In 1887 the Mexican veterans formed an association in this ctiy and, 
at that time there were 15 members. I think that only one or two are 

Then came the great Civil war and again Evansville responded. In 
the 24th Indiana, the 14th, nth, 25th, 32d, 35th, 42d, 65th, 91st, 120th, 
125th, 136th, 143d regiments were men from \'anderburg County. Some 
of our men and officers could not get into those regiments and enHsted in 
others, so that the records show that they were in 26 different regiments. 
Later on there was a call for colored troops and a great number of colored 
men from this city enlisted and did good work. In the meantime a com- 
pany of Homeguards was organized. This was composed of men who 
were really too old to be fit for military duty and yet they held themselves 
in readiness all through the war to repel at any time, an attack on this city. 
The leading company was the Evansville Rifles, of which I was the drum- 
mer. They drilled in Sunset park which at that time had no trees in it 
and on one or two occasions camped at Blackford's Grove. There were 
only a few scares during the war, one of which was the John Morgan case. 
It was reported that he was just across the river from Newburgh and was 
liable to swoop down on the city at any time. Valuables were all hid and 
the Homeguards turned out and went into camp at once, to be ready for 
duty but the night passed with no further alarm and a day or two after- 
wards it was found that Morgan was operating near Cincinnati. The first 
man who offered to enlist in Evansville was Captain Charles H. Meyer- 
hoff. He enlisted in the 14th Indiana in Captain Willard's company but 
this was after he had been repulsed by Captain Thompson, who was or- 
ganizing a company. Young Meyerhoff had attended a speaking and at 
once went to Captain Thompson and offered to enlist, but that gentleman 
said to him, "Oh go on home. We do not want boys. There are plenty of 
men in Indiana to do all the fighting that is necessary." Among the men 
who made national reputations during the war were Gen. James M. 
Shackelford, John W. Foster, Gen. Conrad Baker, John Rheinlahder, Col. 
Charles Denby, Col. James Shanklin and Col. S. R. Hornbrook. Mr. J. P. 
Elliot, who wrote quite an interesting history of Vanderburg County 
some years ago and to whom the author is indebted for many dates, was 
in the early part of the war, trustee of Pigeon Township and at the same 
time, quartermaster of the Second Indiana regiment. These two condi- 
tions made it his duty to care for the refugees and fugitives who kept com- 
ing in hordes to Evansville. They came by boat loads and were in abso- 
lutely destitute condition. It was found necessary to make a regular camp 


which was done in Blackford's Grove. Sometimes there were as many as 
250 men, women and children encamped at one time but the citizens took 
care to see that they were furnished with provisions and clothes and they 
certainly had plenty to eat. This latter can be said of conditions during 
the entire war. There was always some depot or two or three of them 
in the city, completely filled with all sorts of delicacies which were con- 
tributed by Evansville women or Vanderburg County. These were sent 
from time to time, to hospitals all over the south. I remember that 
Messrs. Baer and Small had moved out of the brick store just in the rear 
of the American Tobacco Company at First and Sycamore and this store 
was completely filled. It happened that one day all who were in charge 
were prevented from going to dinner and we decided to make the meal 
from some of the canned goods and more delicate chicken and preserves 
and things of that kind I never tasted in my life. The old hospital, the 
Hubbard seed house, of which I have spoken before was always well- 
stocked with these delicacies. To show how liberal the people were, at 
one time there were 200 loads of wood for the wives and mothers of the 
soldiers who were at the front, that were brought in by farmers and stored 
at Seventh street park. That night the ladies banqueted them in great style 
at the old Mozart hall on First street. After the war when the remains 
of the regiments passed through this city to Indianapolis to be discharged 
from service, a beautiful arch was erected at Main and 3rd streets, with 
the word "Welcome" upon it and under this these old heroes proudly 

Evansville had more than her share of knowing what war meant. 
Prisoners were brought through here and I have seen them brought down 
on the Green river boats, poor, half-starved fellows, and then again, great 
steamboats full of prisoners for the northern prisons, stopped here and 
were sent North. There were war boats in front of the city and many 
steamed up and down. After the awful battle of Shiloh, the wounded 
of both sides were brought here and cared for. Mr. Elliot very justly 
says, "The people of this city learned well their lesson of charity from the 
mighty clash of amis and they have always held out a friendly hand to a 
magnanimous but conquered enemy." 

Many will remember the reunion of the blue and the gray, held in this 
city in 1883, and the friendly greetings that were exchanged by those who 
had been deadly enemies. Just to divert one moment. 

At this very reunion was one of those cases of which I spoke on a pre- 
ceding page. My guest was George W. Peck, editor of Peck's Sun, and 
author of Peck's Bad Boy, a humorist of national reputation and one of 
the best fellows that ever lived, and a man who went into the army and 
served faithfully all through the war as a private. His speech was a hu- 
morous one, of course, and was listened to with much attention and re- 
sponded to by peals o'f laughter. It happened that we had that day a 
speaker who was just my ideal of a worthless soldier. He was a man of 


very little standing in the place from whence he came, and too lazy to keep 
up his work, as the old books of many a wholesale firm in Evansville will 
testify. But when it came to doing no working but a whole lot of speaking, 
he was in his element and he got up on the stage and was so radical in his 
remarks, so carried away by his self-importance that he strung out his 
speech, repeating the same thing over and over until the veterans were 
simply disgusted and Peck, who was waiting for his turn, gently pulled 
my sleeve and said, "Doesn't that old tub know the war is over yet, and how 
long is he going to keep up that rot ?" Peck simply echoed the feelings of 
the men there. In fact, this man used the war as a stepping-stone to his 
own personal advancement. Through the power of his mouth he rose 
from one position to another, until he became a chronic leech on the Na- 
tional treasury and not only that, but he took care of every relative he had 
and every relative his wife had. I think he is dead now, but if he died 
there was very little fuss over it. But if I were a betting man, I would 
bet that, thought he held a high position in the army, he was never near 
enough to an active fight to hear the whiz of a bullet. He was entirely 
too shrewd and too careful of his portly frame to ever go near to a post of 
danger. If I did not know exactly what I was writing about I certainly 
would not make the above statement, which I will admit is pretty severe, 
but none the less called for. For this was one of the kinds of men who 
made it almost impossible for northern capital to get into the South for 
so many long years, and in this manner, instead of helping his country, he 
retarded its progress. All men who have mercantile interests know that 
after this class of men stopped their eternal howling, it was only a year or 
two until the whole South was flooded with northern capital, to the mutual 
advantage of both. 

Speaking of this first Mexican company. Captain William Walker, who 
organized it, was the ancestor of the present Walker family of Evansville. 
He settled here in 1835. His family consisted of his wife, Cathrine Walker, 
and his children, James T. Walker, Dr. Geo. B. Walker, William H., Oscar 
and Dr. John T. Walker; his daughters, Mary and Hanna, who after- 
wards became Mrs. Welburn. He is spoken of as having been a very active 
business man and was probably the first one who had charge of street im- 
provements in the little town. He was an ardent democrat and fully 
approved of the war against Mexico. The fact that he had served in the 
war of 1812 made him just the one to raise a company for the Mexican 
war, although he must have been at that time quite an old man. Among 
those who were in this company I will mention only a few whose descend- 
ants still live here. Martin Stinson, George W. Peck, William Gable, Rob- 
ert McCurkin, David Allen, Isaac Anderson, Samuel Adkin, Harrison Cox, 
Adam Haag, Leroy Jenkins, Geo. W. Knight, C. Stansberry, L. Linxweil- 
ler, James Nolan, John W. Stephens, James Sanders, Richard Smith. This 
company, as stated, was a part of the second regiment Indiana volunteers. 
Dr. John T. Walker was assistant surgeon of this regiment and served all 


through the war and in i860 joined the 25th Indiana regiment. His son, 
WilHam Walker, also joined it but through exposure was compelled to go 
home, where he died. Another son, Jesse B. Walker, became a major in 
the same regiment. Dr. Walker lived for a long time in a two-story frame 
house where Thieles' Stove house now stands. His son, Captain George B. 
Walker, inherited the love for the military life, for he joined the United 
States service. 

Before going further with the history of the war, some account ought to 
be given of the peculiar position in which the city of Evansville was placed. 
Those of the far North or East, who only knew of battles through the 
daily papers, of the camp sickness, of the floods and the weather through 
which our Civil war heroes went, of course know nothing of the war as we 
know of it. While there was no active conflict in sight of this city, there 
were times when the booms of cannon could be heard and we were just 
across the river from Kentucky, which suffered terribly from bands of 
guerillas. These guerillas, while as a rule they pretended to belong to 
the southern army and to be imbued with southern instincts, were nothing 
in the world but the scum of both southern and northern cities, banded 
together for the purpose of robbery. They never belonged to any army. 
They were willing at all times to offer their services to the confederates, 
only to desert at the first opportunity and meet again somewhere in Ken- 
tucky. They were equally willing, when on meeting parties of the Union 
army, to swear that they had deserted the confederate army because they 
had not been treated right in either pay or clothing and would agree to act 
as spies and lead the Union troops against their former comrades. Of 
course they never did this, because they would have been exposed by the 
confederates the moment they saw them, but they would manage to lead the 
Union troops close to the confederates and then skurry out of the way until 
after a battle, at which time they were the first to be on hand to rob the 
dead of either side, or steal any loose horses. In fact, a great deal of their 
money was made through the stealing of stock, because, as is the case now, 
Kentucky was at that time full of grand horses and let a little band of 
these guerrillas hear of a good horse or two and they would ride boldly up 
to the farmer's house in the name of the Confederate army or the Union 
army just as they saw fit, and make away with them, only to sell them by 
running them across the river into Indiana or Ohio. These men had no 
regular uniform and could easily pass for soldiers of either army. They 
were equally quick in picking up firearms of any kind. The fact that game 
was so plentiful all along the Green river country after the war was due to 
the fact hat every one who owned a gun of any kind, buried it to keep these 
thieves from getting it. By the time the war was over the rust had nat- 
urally ruined all these guns, and as the inhabitants of that country were 
afraid to fire off a gun for fear of bringing a little band of these guerrillas 
upon them, the game for four long years was absolutely untouched. A great 
many of these guerrillas were caught redhanded by Union soldiers and were 


strung up or shot with as little ceremony as would be given a horse thief. 
Some of them, after the close of the war, drifted down into Arkansas and 
I saw the house in Clay County where the noted Quantrell brothers made 
their rendezvous for a time, as well as the farm where one of them, who 
was alleged to have reformed, lived until he died. There was a splendid 
deer crossing near the house and many a deer fell beneath his aim. Several 
of these guerrillas were brought through this city, and unlike other prison- 
ers, they were handcuffed, thus showing that the Union officers took them 
for what they were — simply thieves. They were a set of cowardly curs 
who could not even be true to their own friends and should have been shot 
or hanged on sight. 


It is not to be assumed that this book could well be made large enough 
to contain a full account of the Civil war or the part that the people of 
Evansville and Vanderburg County took in the same. Whole volumes 
have been written on this subject and even then they failed to cover all 
the details, so what this book may have to say will be simply a compilation 
of the most important facts occurring during the war that bore upon our 
people. For some years prior to 1861 there had been disruptions of various 
kinds all over the country. It had become understood by all thinking peo- 
ple that the North and the South were utterly at variance on many vital 
points and that sooner or later there must be a clash of some kind. Per- 
haps if those in Congress and the Senate had been more mild, more willing 
to concede to each other that they might be right in certain ideas that were 
seemingly bom in them, this war never would have occurred. Yet it seems 
to have been a matter of fate that it came, and no matter how much we of 
the present day may regret it and mourn over the thousands who are of- 
fered up on the altar of liberty, the war came and all that remains to us 
is to tell of it and forget it. In the year 1832 there had been quite a con- 
test between politicians of the North and South and a contest at that time 
was narrowly averted, but the people had had enough of the war of 1812 
and the Mexican war and the hearts of these men were for peace, but by 
i860 many had arrived at the age of maturity, and thought of these strug- 
gles only as a memory and did not heed the lesson that had been taught at 
that time. The United States was progressing in giant strides, yet there 
seemed to be one stone in her arch that needed to be removed &nd that 
was the stone of slavery. Though tlie people of the South looked on it as 
one of their cherished institutions and believed it to be perfectly right, the 
great North could not understand the situation and was almost united in 
the belief that no human being should be held in bondage. Yet these same 
men forgot that their ancestors were the first slave-holders and at the time 
slaves were introduced into New England, the South was absolutely un- 
settled and therefore could have no slaves. But be that as it may, this was 
the great point of difference and to the existence of slavery and an effort 


to wipe it out of existence, the great Civil war can be attributed. The 
republican party was then in its infancy, but its leaders were all anti-slavery 
men and they were outspoken in their denunciation of it. In the cam- 
paign of i860 party feeling ran very high and speeches were made and 
great processions were gathered together from all the surounding country 
and the streets of Evansville were filled with brass bands and fife and drum 
corps, and even mounted women and children. During the Fremont cam- 
paign, four years before this time, the great emblem had been a ship of 
state, but this gave way to a mammoth log wagon, drawn by oxen, on 
which were immense logs and along these logs were scattered sturdy woods- 
men who swung mauls onto wedges which were driven into the wood. This 
was to indicate railsplitting and was a tribute to Abraham Lincoln, who was 
then a candidate for the presidential chair and who was called "The Rail- 
spliter." Mr. Lincoln publicly declared that it was his conviction, after 
much thought, that no government could exist which was half free and 
half slave and his election to the presidential chair was accepted by the 
South as a menace to their great institution. They had been taught by 
John C. Calhoun that state sovereignty was the proper thing, and when it 
became known that Abraham Lincoln was elected, they seceded. South 
Carolina took the first step and passed an ordinance of secession and she 
was followed by Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, 
Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina. This was a trying 
position for this great president. Seven states had declared themselves 
out of the Union and not subject to his authority, and in less than two 
months four others followed. In February, 1861, a peace conference was 
held at Baltimore, which was attended by some of the most influential men 
in the country. Their object was to arrive at some compromise and by it 
avert what they knew would be a most disastrous war. This conference 
occupied many days, but failed to accomplish anything. The excitement 
grew more intense all over the country. The very extreme partisans who 
had supported Mr. Lincoln were disappointed when they saw that these 
last states were allowed to leave the Union and join the confederacy. 
There was much discussion. Some believed that if the South wished to 
withdraw it had a perfect right to do so. Affairs became so strained that 
meetings were held all over the countr>^ It was while the public mind was 
so excited that the hot-blooded southerners took the wrong step. They 
were so firm in their belief that they were right and that the North was 
wrong that they had actually organized into a separate government before 
Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated. It created an army and navy and six weeks 
after Abraham Lincoln was elected it attacked the troops at Fort Sumter. 
This deed was what brought the North to a state of desperation in which 
it resolved to conquer or lose everything in the strife. Of course, Van- 
derburg County, which even then was full of public-spirited men, was not 
idle while all this discussion was going on and when it was found that war 
was a necessity, rhen of all different parties deserted their creeds and 


joined together in forming companies to support the old flag of their 
country. It was on the 17th of April, 1861, that a call was issued by lead- 
ing citizens for a public meeting at the court house in the evening. At 
nightfall, the Jackson artillery, under Captain EUes, of whom I have 
spoken, turned out in uniform and fired a national salute. Warren's 
Crescent City band went through the streets playing national airs. The 
court house was quickly filled and Mayor Baker, that grand old man, was 
called on to preside over the meeting. It was soon found that the streets 
on the outside were blocked with people who were unable to get in, so the 
speaker left the court house and went across the street to what was then 
the Washington house, kept by Felkerf and Hedderich, and which is now 
the clothing store of N. Gross. In those days there was a balcony on 
which the band was stationed. The crowd kept increasing and it was 
found that the contracted corner of the four streets would not hold it, and 
therefore the throng moved to the old market house, where a stand was 
hastily put up. The first speaker was Col. James E. Blythe, a well-known 
orator of that day. He was followed by Conrad Baker, who was then a 
prominent lawyer here, and who afterwards became governor of the state. 
In his speech he used this expression : "The preservation of the government 
is above all personal and party considerations and we pledge to its support 
now and hereafter, our all, without reference to the men or party by 
which it may be administered." 

There was a great outburst at the end of this speech, and Judge Baker 
took occasion to administer an oath to support the constitution and the 
Union. Captain Elles pledged his company. Mr. Blythe Hynes and Wil- 
liam H. Chandler both made speeches and the meeting adjourned with three 
cheers for the Union, the Constitution, the enforcement of the laws and 
the stars and stripes. As was natural, there were some who disbelieved in 
this. They perhaps had been brought up in diiTerent schools, and it is but 
natural for one to stand by the principles that are inculcated into him during 
his childhood, but these were in a great minority. 

There was an appeal at once to raise a company, although at that time 
possibly not one in this whole city had the faintest idea that a desperate 
conflict would wage for four long years, in which the fair South would be 
changed to a scene of ruin and desolation, with only the old stone chimneys 
marking the path of victories of northern armies as they swept through it 
and that in thousands of northern homes there would be, as the result of 
this war, vacant chairs which never again would be filled. It has often 
struck me that if any of the men on either side, and I give each side credit 
for following the dictates of their own consciences, could have looked ahead 
and have seen what all this meant, I firmly believe there never would have 
been any war. But the people were excited, and Evansville came rapidly to 
the front, though no one here would have believed in those early days 
that, beside keeping up her own homeguards, Vanderburg County would 
contribute 3,500 men. There were companies rapidly formed, and by June 



1st, the townships had nine companies of infantry and three of artillery. 
The great trouble was to get enough arms to supply them. As fast as the 
companies were formed they went into camp, and the first part of the war 
was little more than a pleasant camping picnic, for the ladies of the city 
visited the camps at all times and instead of being fed on United States 
rations the young soldiers were provided with a regular feast of the 
choicest edibles to be had. The first great shock came with the news of 
the battle of Bull Run, when to the surprise of everyone, the Union troops 
were routed and driven pell mell from the field of battle. It seemed im- 
possible for the people to recognize that it was really true, and it was at 
this hour that they probably began to foresee that war in its reality, was a 
terrible thing. All through the war our people followed the movements 
of the armks with the greatest interest. It seemed as if there was hardly 
a family but had some representative in the army and when the first news 
came of any great battle, the agony of heart that our people suffered was 
terrible. When the bloody battle of Shiloh was fought, the steamer 
Charley Bowen was loaded with supplies and our citizens went to the bat- 
tlefield as fast as steam could take them, to administer to the wants of 
the afflicted. At Pittsburg Landing and Gettysburg, with their awful 
slaughter, our people could hardly wait to get the details which brought 
gloom to many a household. We all followed the march of Sherman to 
the sea in 1864 and when the news came of the final fall of Atlanta, an 
immense crowd assembled in front of the old bank to hear patriotic speeches 
and music and see the fireworks. Great demonstrations of joy followed 
the capture of Richmond and Petersburg, but when at last the news came 
of the surrender of Gen. Lee there was a day of rejoicing such as was never 
known before. The news came in the evening, but it took all night for 
it to become fairly known, but early in the morning the guns belched forth 
their thunder. The bells all over the city rang wildly out, the whistles blew, 
bands were out and flags blew from every available point. Main street 
for the first time in its history was one continuous panorama of flags. The 
city schools were dismissed and the children marched through the streets. 
At noon a grand salute of 200 guns was fired under the direction of Cap- 
tain Tombler. Business was entirely suspended. Such an era of general 
joy was never before seen in Evansville and it was not so much that our 
army had been victorious and had swept everything before them, but the 
feeling that this cruel war was over, and that peace and prosperity would 
again reign over a united country. But it was in the midst of this that 
the deepest gloom came, by the announcement that President Lincoln had 
been struck down by the cowardly hand of an assassin. It could hardly be 
believed. The flags in the city and on the boats at the wharf hung at half- 
mast. The churches were thronged with people, business was suspended 
and houses were draped, while the city bells all tolled. Guns were fired 
every half-hour from sunrise to sunset. The grief was absolute, even in 
the hearts of those whose sympathies perhaps had been with the South. 


It is pitiful that there were so many who did not know at that time that 
the great heart of this greatest of men was full of a tender love for the 
South and that though he was the ruling power of the country which had 
subdued them, he had at all times, even in moments of victory, mourned 
over their loss as he would over the loss of his dearest friends. There 
are so many little incidents in the life of Lincoln that have brought out 
this feeling which we now know existed all the time, that there hardly lives 
a man who feels any doubt on this matter, and it is unjust to believe that the 
people of the South, taken as a mass, ever felt joy over the dastardly deed 
of the miserable Booth. 

It was on the 19th of April that Captain Noah S. Thompson issued his 
call for troops. Captain Thompson had served in the Mexican war and was 
just the man for the position. As stated. Captain Meyerhoff had applied 
to him to enlist but had been refused. The company's rolls were opened 
on Saturday, the 20th, and within four hours the company was more than 
full. It met that same evening at its armory on Main, and the oath was 
administered by John V. Foster, notary public, who afterwards became 
a colonel and then one of the most distinguished diplomats this country 
ever had. The company took the name of the Crescent City Guards. They 
were expected to go to Indianapolis on the following Tuesday, but Cap- 
tain Thompson, who had preceded them, wired back, "We cannot get in. 
Disband the company." By this time the company was 132 strong, and 
at least 100 more had offered themselves and were refused. They had 
already commenced their military drills and their disappointment can readily 
be imagined. After some delay, however, they were received into service 
and went into camp at the old fair grounds, on Pigeon Creek, until such 
a time as they should be called into active service. They were mustered in 
on June 7th, and their official title was "Company E, 14th regiment infantry". 
Captain Thompson resigned and Lieutenant Willard took his place in 1861, 
serving until his term expired. A much-loved member of this company 
was Edward Ballenger, who was always known as Ed. He had been a 
clerk in Evansville and was highly esteemed by everybody on account of 
his genial good nature. He was badly wounded during action and died 
as the result of these wounds in 1862. Captain Meyerhoff, who had served 
all through the war, was in the hospital at the time the company was 
mustered out, on account of wounds received during action. Just, before 
Captain Thompson's company departed, it was presented with a flag by 
the ladies of the city of Evansville. It was of silk and had been made by 
their own fair hands. It was presented at the corner of Main and Third 
streets. Every window and balcony in the neighborhood was completely 
blocked with friends who desired to see this event. The Turner corps, 
composed of German young men, was out in full uniform. The speech 
of presentation was made by Mr. James Shanklin, and it was one of the 
most brilliant and, at the same time, pathetic, pieces of oratory ever heard 
in this city. One beautiful thought was as follows: "Soldiers, to you this 


flag is entrusted. The knight who brought back his banner untom and 
unsullied by the fierce contest of battle was disowned and rejected by his 
ladylove. Do not be afraid of soiling this noble flag; if it be blackened 
by the smoke of battle, the same fair hands will make its folds white again 
on your return ; if it be torn and riddled in the raging strife of the battle- 
field, not a broken star that shall not shine again, not a tattered stripe that 
shall not wave as proudly as ever to the breeze. When you come home 
from fields of battle they want you to bring a rattlesnake flag and present 
it to them. They want to see the old serpent that is tempting our fair 
southern Eve to fall again." 

The history of this regiment was like that of all the others. They 
were in some perilous places but at all times covered themselves with glory. 
In one battle it lost 123 men. At one time during their career they made 
339 miles of almost continuous marching. Many of them were without 
shoes. The covering of their feet had worn entirely ofif. Fortunately this 
was in June, and they were able to bind up their feet and get along as best 
they could. 

The first regiment to arrive in Evansville was the nth which came 
here in May, 1861, for re-organization as a three-year regiment. It was 
unexpected and no fitting reception was given to it, but its ranks were 
rapidly filled up by Evansville volunteers who had previously been unable 
to enlist. It was first stationed at Paducah during the winter and except 
slight skirmishes, did little work until the awful fight at Fort Donelson. 
At Shiloh it also was in a hot place but behaved admirably. Finally 
towards the close of the war and after the Sheridan campaign, it drifted 
to Baltimore where it was mustered out July 26, 1865. 

The 24th regiment followed the 14th and was organized by Gen. Alvin 
P. Hovey. Companies C and F of this regiment were nearly all Vander- 
burg County men. Capt. John F. Grill, who was well known here, served 
until 1862 and was then appointed major and in 1863 received the rank of 
lieutenant colonel which he retained until he was mustered out in 1865. 
The 24th started from Vincennes going direct to St. Louis, where they 
joined Gen. Fremont's army which was back at Paducah and was at Ft. 
Donelson and Shiloh. At Shiloh Col. Hovey was made Brigadier Gen- 
eral for his bravery. In 1865 it had drifted to Barrancas, Florida, and 
later took part in the movement against Mobile. Of this regiment there 
were only 310 who returned to Indianapolis on the 4th of August, 1865. 
They were mustered out in November. 


This was known as the battery of Captain John Klauss. He was a 
very popular German and had no trouble in raising an independent artil- 
lery company which had been neatly uniformed, perfectly drilled and had 
taken part in all the parades in Evansville prior to the war. They were 


organized for the front on the 5th of August, 1861, and were mustered in 
on the i6th. This battery was in many serious conflicts yet it did not suf- 
fer so much in proportion as did many others. They reached IndianapoHs 
with three officers and 102 men who were mustered out August 22, 1865. 


The first infantry regiment to go to the front as an Evansville or- 
ganization was the 25th. While Gen. Hovey was working on the 24th the 
25th was being organized here. James C. Veatch, a splendid soldier was 
directly interested in getting up this regiment. He resided at that time in 
Rockport but had many interests in Evansville. William H. Morgan was 
placed in command of this regiment and served until May, 1864, and later 
Col. James S. Wright assumed command until it was mustered out. It 
was in this regiment that Col. John W. Foster began his military career 
as major. He was afterwards promoted to lieutenant colonel and then left 
the regiment to take command of the 65th. Col. John Rheinlander was 
also in this regiment as Captain of Company B. He was promoted to ma- 
jor and then to lieutenant colonel in October, 1862. Col. Rheinlander was 
a soldier by instinct. He had served in a Kentucky infantry company in 
the Mexican war, and had been at the battle of Buena Vista. His war 
record was indeed a splendid one and no man received more honor than 
he did during his long years of residence here, after the war was over. 
Aside from being a fine soldier he was a man of most excellent impulses 
and was universally loved. To know him once, was to be his friend 


In June, 1861, orders were issued for the organization of a regiment 
of cavalry, in the counties bordering on the Ohio river and the camps were 
organized at this city where eight companies were completed and mustered 
in on the 20th of August. Conrad Baker whose name is so prominently 
identified with the history of this city, was colonel. The field and staff 
officers were nearly all from adjoining counties, there being only four be- 
sides Col. Baker who held positions. John Smith Gavitt whom everybody 
knew as Smith Gavitt, and who was a brave and intrepid man who had 
served as sheriff here, was major of the regiment. He was soon after- 
wards killed at Fredrickstown, Missouri. Patrick Raleigh, the sc«i of one 
of our oldest citizens, was the first lieutenant and William Baker, known 
as Billy Baker, was quartermaster. Companies A and B were almost en- 
tirely of Vanderburg County men. Joel F. Sherwood, father of the Sher- 
wood boys was promoted from second lieutenant to captain in October, 
1861. The death of Smith Gavitt was a great shock to the community and 
being among the very first of the deaths of the officers or well-known 
citizens, when his remains were brought here, there was a grand funeral 
and it was then that they first began to realize what war meant. After- 



wards when the shot flew thick and fast and dead and wounded lay on 
many fields and the prisons of the north and south were filled and the 
hospitals all over the country were crowded with poor fellows who never 
again could expect to be men in the full meaning of the word, the people 
began to know of the horrors of war. 


This was called the First German regiment as it was the first one that 
was almost exclusively composed of soldiers of German birth or descent. 
It was organized at Indianapolis by Col. Willich, who had served in the 
German army in the revolution of 1848. The first company gotten up in 
Evansville was composed mostly of Turners, with Schnackenburg as cap- 
tain. This company was armed with rifles. They wore blue blouses, soft 
hats and dark pants and for a time were detained for the protection of 
the powder houses here and also the property of citizens. They were also 
presented with a beautiful flag in front of Mozart hall on First street. The 
Homeguards turned out in full force. The Jackson artillery, Klauss bat- 
tery and the companies of Capt. Monk, Capt. Wolflin, Captain Denby and 
Captain Shanklin. The flag was presented by Miss Pfafilin. German songs 
were sung and quite a procession was formed which marched all over the 


Bernard F. Mullen or Barney Mullen, as he was known, of Madison, 
Indiana, was given authority to organize the 25th or ist Irish regiment. 
This was mustered in December 11, 1861, with John C. Walker as colonel. 
About 20 men went from Vanderburg County to Madison to join this 
regiment. Among the officers James Fitzwilliams, second lieutenant, was 
the only one from this city. He rose to first lieutenant, then captain and 
then to major of the regiment. Timothy Dawson, well known here and 
an old schoolmate of the writer, was first and second lieutenant and later 
captain of Company H. Michael Gorman was second lieutenant when the 
two regiments of the 61 st and the 25th were consolidated. James Gavisk 
was a second lieutenant. In Company G of this regiment appears the 
name of William J. Nolan, "not mustered out." This regiment did a 
great deal of hard fighting and was in the marches, battles, and skir- 
mishes of the Atlanta campaign in 1864. At Kenesaw mountain it was in 
a desperate hand-to-hand struggle and it also took part in the fight at 
Franklin, Tennessee. It remained in Tennessee until June, 1865, and was 
then sent to Texas and mustered out September 30th, 1865. 


This battery was recruited at Evansville and mustered in at Indiana- 
polis September 7th, 1861, with Fred Behr as captain. He lost his life at 


Shiloh in 1862 and Michael Mueller, who had been first lieutenant was 
appointed captain and served until he was mustered out. The other officers 
of this battery were residents of Indianapolis. 


Of this regiment which was organized October 9th, 1861, Company A 
was the only one composed entirely of Vanderburg County men. The 
colonel of this regiment was James G. Jones, a pioneer citizen. Its lieu- 
tenant colonel was that great statesman and soldier, Charles Denby, who 
was promoted to be colonel of the 80th regiment. At that time his posi- 
tion was filled by James M. Shanklin, the oldest son of that beloved 
pioneer, John Shanklin. Dewitt C. Evans, the oldest son of Gen. Robert 
Evans was adjutant and James L. Orr, now a respected citizen, was quar- 
termaster. Dr. John Mageniss was also surgeon in this regiment. Geo. 
W. Shanklin was quartermaster sergeant. At the time the regiment was or- 
ganized, the regimental band of 20 pieces under the leadership of that wor- 
thy citizen, C. C. Genung was mustered in with the regiment but at that time 
the war department issued an order dispensing with bands and that prevented 
this band from taking a part with the regiment during its career. In this 
regiment. Captain Jacob W. Messick, won his epaulets as captain, having 
entered as sergeant. The late Andrew McCutchan and James W. Vick- 
ery also served in this regiment. 


In 1861 Col. Richard Owen, resident of New Harmony, Indiana, who 
had made a reputation as an excellent commander, and was then lieuten- 
ant colonel of the 15th regiment, obtained authority to recruit a regiment 
at Evansville and a partial organization was made in November. While 
the enlistment was going on, the regiment was ordered to Camp Morton 
at Indianapolis, to guard confederate prisoners and while on duty there, 
the organization of the regiment was perfected, the last companies being 
mustered in in March and April. The only regimental officer from this 
county was Major Joseph B. Cox, who joined as captain of Company F 
and was promoted. He was compelled to resign on account of ill health. 
The late Dr. Madison J. Bray, was surgeon from November 15, 1861, to 
November 28th, 1862, when he resigned his place which was filled by Dr. 
W. W. Slaughter. He served until 1864, when Dr. James P. Hunter, also 
of Evansville, took his place. 


This battery also contained quite a number of officers and men who 
were residents of Vanderburg County. It was mustered in at Indianapolis 
December 13, 1861, with Geo. T. Cochran as captain. William Stolz 


served with this battery until he became a captain of the 7th battery. Ser- 
geant Frank Burkhart was transferred to the 7th battery. Cor. Thomas 
McCorkle served also and was mustered out. Bugler Samuel Day was 
promoted to second lieutenant and was mustered out with it. Milton H. 
Catlett was also in this battery until he was discharged in 1853 on account 
of disability. 


When this regiment was organized the first year of the war had drawn 
to a close and the great public had begun to realize what war really meant, 
and that those who so confidently would say, "Oh, we will go out and settle 
it in a month or two," had no conception of what they were talking about. 
And right here, let it be said that there never was and never will be another 
nation on the face of the earth which could furnish two such bands of 
fighters as did the United States where, for four long years, brother met 
brother, and friend met friend and fought to the bitter end, exhibiting such 
deeds of courage as never before were noted in the annals of history, and 
the reason is plainly to be seen. They were all of the same stock — the good 
old American stock. No matter from what state they hailed, the blood was 
in them and they fought to win. It began to be seen that to crush out the 
South would require a very large force in the field. Calls for additional 
men began to be made. Even then it was said of the South that it was 
robbing the grave and the cradle to furnish men to fight the hosts of the 
North. If this were so at that early date in the war, how much more true 
it must have been later on. The responses to these calls for more men were 
very prompt. 

The 65th regiment was organized at Princeton and with the exception of 
one of its companies, was mustered in at Evansville, June 20th, 1862. Its 
colonel was John \V. Foster, the accomplished diplomat who resigned March 
10, 1864, because of physical disability, and afterwards entered the service 
as Colonel of the 136th. William A. Page, known to everyone as Billy 
Page, was adjutant, until worn out with exposure he resigned in 1865. 
Company H was commanded by Captain Saunders R. Hornbrook, who 
held this position throughout its career. For meritorious service he was 
commissioned major but declined the honor. Samuel H. Leavitt, who taught 
the high school in the Canal school building, was second lieutenant of Com- 
pany H. The late Thomas J. Groves was a second lieutenant and the late 
James D. Parvin commissary sergeant. Sergt. George W. Hill also served 
in this regiment. 


Many men from Vanderburg County were prominent in this organization. 
Isaac B. Gray, who was afterwards governor of the state, was colonel. 
Most of the Evansville people were in Company F, of which John T. De- 


weese was captain. He was promoted major, lieutenant colonel and colonel 
in rapid succession. Albert C. Rosencranz went out as first lieutenant and 
rose to the command of the company and was commissioned major of the 
regiment. Corporal John W. Peck was also in this company. 


Only seven companies of this regiment were raised here, though it was 
supposed to be recruited from the first congressional district in August. 
1862, and its rendezvous was at Evansville. John Mehringer was lieutenant 
colonel, but it was known to our people as Colonel Butterfield's regiment, 
as he achieved his rank while serving as major, a rank that he held from its 
organization. Men from this county were in several of the companies of 
the regiment but the majority were in Company G, of which William B. 
Hargrave was captain. Stephen H. S. Cook went out as second lieutenant 
but resigned the next year. 


This was one of the regiments that was turned over to the command 
of Brigadier General Alvin P. Hovey. The above regiment was the only 
one of the six in which there were no Vanderburg County people and there 
were only a few of them. John M. Simmerman, who enlisted as a private 
in Company D, was afterwards captain of his company but no other Van- 
derburg County man received a commission. 


This was recruited during the awful winter of 1863 at Vincennes. Very 
few of its officers were drawn from here. Thomas G. Williamson went out 
as captain of Company B and was promoted to lieutentant colonel and Oliver 
Babcock, who enlisted as private, was promoted to first lieutenant. This 
command did not leave the state until May 3rd, 1864. It then went to Ten- 
nessee and Alabama, where its chief work was in guarding railroads over 
which supplies were sent to Sherman's army. They had several skirmishes 
with the forces under Roddy, Wheeler and Forrest and naturally these were 
bloody, as these three were among the best skirmishers in the southern 
army. This regiment was on the ill fated steamer Sultana when "she blew 
up in 1865 and lost three officers and 35 men at the time. It also lost 5 men 
killed and 70 wounded by a railroad collision on the L. & N. The regiment 
went out with 1054 officers and men and received 46 recruits and returned 
home with 28 officers and 519 men. 


The winter of 1863 and 1864 had passed and the fights were still going 
on and with no means, little ammunition and scanty rations, the very flower 


of their people killed, and the cradle and the grave again being robbed, the 
little band of southern men were still fighting as desperately as ever. It was 
determined that it was best for all, even for them, that the war be brought 
speedily to a close. It was thoroughly understood that had different tac- 
tics been observed the war would have long before been over. The north 
with untold millions of men and with ammunition and supplies almost in- 
exhaustible, could have wiped the entire south out of existence but always 
hoping that the end might soon come, the four years had passed away until 
it was felt that some decisive step must be taken. It had been hoped that 
the brilliant victories gained during the previous year would be effective 
and that peace might be restored by mere power of arms. There was a 
general consolidation in the north and the governors of Ohio, Indiana, Illi- 
nois, Iowa and Arkansas offered to raise for the service of the general gov- 
ernment, a force of volunteers to serve for loo days and in April, 1864, 
Governor Morton issued his call for Indiana to furnish her portion. This 
force was different from regular army volunteers. They were to perform 
such military services as might be needed in any state in the United States 
and were to be armed, fed, clothed and paid by the United States. But they 
were not to receive any bounty. The idea was among others, to let these 
new men relieve the large number of veterans who were doing garrison and 
guard duty and allow them to get back to their places at the front, thus put- 
ting all the green men as guards and allowing the old veterans to get to the 
post where they could do the most good. Indiana was to send 8 regiments, 
numbered sonsecutively from 132 to the 139th. The 136th regiment was 
composed mostly of men from the first district, the Companies A, B, and C 
being from Vanderburg County and comprising the largest body of citizens 
who had not yet gone out at any call. It must not be inferred that any of 
these men had held back on account of lack of patriotism, but as in any 
other duty, there are sometimes cases of which the world knows nothing, 
which prevent a man from following his line of duty when he so chooses. 
The officers of this regiment were as follows : 

Col. John W. Foster, lieutenant colonel; William H. Walker, major; 
Blythe Hynes, quartermaster ; Robert Early, captain of company A ; Adolph 
Pfafflin, first lieutenant; Philip Euler, second lieutenant; Charles Ritter, 
captain of Company B; William B. Hollingsworth, first lieutenant; Frank 
M. Thayer, second lieutenant ; Christ. L. Scott, captain Company C ; Wil- 
liam A. Caldwell, first lieutenant; Edward P. Elliott, second lieutenant; 
Fred. Geiger. At the organization of Company C, William H. Walker was 
commissioned captain. 

So many of these men were well known citizens that this brief state- 
ment regarding the war would be incomplete without the insertion of their 
names and the following is a complete list of the enlisted men : 

Company A — John Alderton, Ernst Andel, George Brown, William G. 
Boepple, William Bischman, Leopold Bernheimer, John Berner, George 
Bambe, George Baisch, Charles Coply, Henry Drier, Frank Dougherty, 


Peter Deal, John Dean, Thomas Doyle, Peter Dam, Thomas Dickerson, 
Henry Eisler, Michael Eisler, Henry Ehman, William H. Edwards, Stephen 
Ensner, Albert Enstein, William A. Fritsch, Albert Fisher, George Geissler, 
Henry C. Green, Henry Gumberts, John Gebing, Henry J. Glein, John M. 
Gleichman, John Huber, Frederick Hoelscher, Jacob Hirch, Phillip Haumer, 
Jacob Hahn, August Heinekamp, Louis Hanschilds, Henry Hewig, John 
Jordan, Rudolph Kehr, Frederick Kercher, George Kissel, August Korse- 
meyer, Frederick Krohn, Francis Krug, Henry Kruse, Theodore L. Kuhl- 
man, Louis Kramer, Christian Koehler, George Kinkel, Charles Kretsch- 
mar, John Linde, Gottlieb Lerch, John H. Lambers, Henry Moellenkamp, 
John Mosel, Louis Metzner, Gustave Mathias, John McDonough, Rein- 
hard Orth, John Polhaus, Theodore Pfafflin, Gottlieb Pfisterer, Jacob Rif- 
fin, Jacob Rickling, John Roepple, Christian Ressler, John L. Straub, Henry 
Smith, Henry Schmitt, Ernst Schorr, Jacob Schlintenhard, Gottlieb Schieber, 
Peter Schindler, Charles Schweitzer, Albert Severet, John Straubmiller, Al- 
bert Schumaker, Charles Schlange, Joseph Schoene, Christian Steinhauer, 
William F. Schlotter, August Schlange, Frederick Teipel, John Voll, Wil- 
liam Vierling, John Walter, Charles West, Christian Walter, Peter Wils- 
bacher, Joseph Witz, Henry F. Wilke, Charles White, Isaac Weiss, Nich- 
olas Yost, Christian Ziss. 

Company B — ^Henry J. Ashley, Augustus C. Ames, John C. Barnes, 
James W. Barbour, Adam Beiling, David W. Burns, Judson G. Burtis, 
Jackson Belford, Benjamin H. Beggs, Samuel W. Blackburn, Henry W. 
Beppus, Robert H. Blackburn, William Burkhart, John Burrucker, William 
T. Carney, Martin N. Christ, William Christian, John W. Collins, James 
Crafts, Adam Conrad, James Corduroy, George B. Davison, Fletcher C. 
DeBruler, John C. Duvendork, Isaac F. Demerit, Robert Early, George 
Elsperman, Oliver Evans, James C. Farrow, Joseph Fitzgerald, John Fitz- 
gerald, Isadore A. Flack, James S. Floyd, George Forsyth, Spencer Glazier, 
James Gorman, William Grammer, Joseph Gugamus, Christian Herman, 
J. Blythe Hendricks. William E. Howsley, John T. Hutchinson, Thomas 
Humphreys, James P. Hynes, Thomas Ingle, William Johnson, John Kat- 
terbacher, Franz Kirchner, Josiah Kightly, Robert B. Kirkpatrick, Madison 
B. Kirkpatrick, William H. Kirkpatrick, Isaac H. Kimbly, John Koenig, 
John Kohl, Leo Kuhn, Adolph Lagant, William B. Lindsey, Marion Lock- 
wood, Joseph Lyon, Walter M. Lewis, Michael Mackedon, Thornton Males, 
George F. Mayer, John Munn, James McKinney, Cliarles Miller, John A. 
Miller, Herman Miller, Jacob Miller, Henry Morris, John Nester, James C. 
Byrne, Charles W. Osborne, William E. Quinn, Lewis Raple, John Roeder, 
Mathew W. Rogers, George J. Reeves, John M. Sampson, Louis Schmitt, 
Frank S. Schu, John H. Sonntag, Henry Steiper, James Swanson, Jr., 
James Taylor, George A. Urie, Abram Van Strickland, George Vickery, 
Samuel W. Wallace, William T. Wade, Frank C. White, Samuel Wyten- 
bach, John Yocum, Adrian Youngs. 


Company C — Charles H. Allen, William F. Beard, John Bailey, Jacob 
Bippus, Louis Birtis, Henry Browne, John Burns, William Burroughs, F. 
Bruce Carson, Albert W. Carpenter, Henry Clark, David Cory, Henry 
Curry, W. H. Day, John Dick, James E. Eargood, James H. Foster, John F. 

Foster, Frank France, James B. Gammel, Geiger, Frederick Geiger, 

Christopher Garst, Jefferson Gilman, Frank Gray, Frederick Guth, Samuel 
Hays, Jacob Heddrick, John Heilman, George Henninger, Louis Hess, A. 
B. Hinkle, Henry Huber, John Hopkins, Calvin P. Howard, Benjamin 
Hubb, Jr., Jacob Hurnell, John Hurly, Heber Ingle, Charles T. Jenkins, 
Frank ]\I. Kennison, Aloses C. Kohn, Joseph P. Kramer, James Larue, Bruce 
Lechner, John Mayhew, Jr., George F. Mansell, William W. ^Manning, John 
Monks, William McDowell, Isaac Miller, Conrad Miller, Allen G. Mills, 
Henry Myers, Benjamin Newman, George W. Newman, Henry C. New- 
man, Philip Nester, John O'Brien, Dennis O'Brien, Patrick O'Brien, James 
H. Philips, Jacob Reerer, William Ryan, John H. Reynolds, Andrew J. 
Rudisil, William L. Sauer, James M. Scantlin, John Scofield, Charles Sense- 
mier, Charles Seedrel, John Sheppard, John D. Sheppard, John Sheer, Jo- 
seph E. Schu, Thomas Shaw, Eson Shaptaugh, John List, Jesse B. Start, 
George M. Stinson, John M. Stinson, Burnett Taylor, Cornelius Totten, 
Levi H. Tower, Howard Walker, William Warren, Nicholas Weber, John 
White, George White, William Wilson, George H. Williams, Nicholas Win- 
ter, Joseph Winer, Robert F. Woods, William Zast. 

The Last Call — In December, 1864, Abraham Lincoln again called on 
the loyal people of the north for 300,000 volunteers. In response to this, 
the final call for troops made by the president during the civil war, Indiana 
sent eleven regiments to the front, among them being the One Hundred and 
Forty-third, composed of companies from the first congressional district, 
organized and mustered into service at Indianapolis on the 21st day of Feb- 
ruary, 1865, with John F. Grill, as colonel. Early in 1861, Col. Grill had 
gone out as captain of a company in the twenty-fourth, had rendered val- 
iant and faithful service with that gallant regiment, had won and received 
advancement to the rank of lieutenant colonel, had just returned to his home 
from active service, and it was a fitting recognition of his worth that he 
should command the last regiment that went out composed largely of Van- 
derburg County men. His commission was dated the 20th day of February, 
1865, and he served until mustered out with the regiment. Other regi- 
mental officers from the county were: Edward P. Elliot, adjutant; Peter 
Schmock, quartermaster, and Benjjimin Davidson, assistant surgeon. The 
following were the officers of Company A, all residents of Evansville: Jus- 
tin A. Kellogg, captain ; Joseph B. Maghee, Jr., first lieutenant, and George 
H. Dearing, second lieutenant. 

The work of this last regiment was very brief, the war being virtually 
at a close when they were mustered in. The general feeling seemed to be 
that they were not to be exposed to the vicissitudes of either battlefield or 
camps in the far south but with the showing made by their rapid response 


to the call for soldiers, would convince the south, already disheartened, that 
it was useless to longer attempt to fight against such overwhelming odds. 
The regiment left Indianapolis February 24, 1865, and went directly to 
Nashville, Tennessee. From thence it moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 
where it did guard duty until May 13, when it went to TuUahoma. Next it 
moved, on the 26th of June, to Nashville, and then went to Clarksville, 
Tennessee, where three companies were detached and sent to do garrison 
duty at Fort Donelson. Orders were received for mustering it out of serv- 
ice and the regiment was once more brought together and marched to Nash- 
ville where it was mustered out on the 17th of October, 1865. On coming 
back to Indiana it went direct to Indianapolis where it was publicly received 
at the State-house grove by a large body of the citizens and it was here that 
the members of the regiment received their final discharge. 

In again speaking of the part Indiana took in the war, I wish to call at- 
tention to the fact that more men wished to join from this state than could 
be accommodated. There were many captains who organized companies and 
failed to get them into the Indiana troops, so were compelled to enlist their 
men in other states. In 1861 some of the newspapers announced that In- 
diana was not allowed to furnish her proper proportion of the troops needed. 
It is because of this fact that it is hard to tell just how many Vanderburg 
County men really enlisted, because the credit of their enlistment went to 
other localities and therefore an Indiana record could not well be made. 
There are many cases where men volunteered and did honorable service 
which were entitled to the credit of the present generation, but because of 
the failure on the part of the mustering officer to make a record of their 
responses, they did not appear in the records of Vanderburg County sol- 
diers. Still in nearly all histories of the war their names appear and that 
they do not appear as Vanderburg County soldiers is simply a blow to our 
county pride and no reflection on their patriotism. 


At the time of the breaking out of the war, the militia of this state had 
not been thoroughly organized for some thirty years. At various times there 
would be spasmodic attempts to get them together and for a time there 
would be musterings and parades but the martial spirit would die out only 
to be taken up again when there was a popular call for the same. But at the 
beginning of the war, the legislature in special session at once provided for a 
thorough reorganization of the state militia. At that time while Major 
General John Love was commander-in-chief of the legion, the only general 
officer from Vanderburg County was Blythe Hynes, who was afterwards 
provost marshal and later major of the 136th regiment. The Vanderburg 
County militia went in the second regiment, first brigade, second division of 
the legion. Carl Schmitt was major. General James E. Blythe, a well 
known lawyer of this city, rose to the rank of brigadier general and died dur- 


ing service. The staff officers were: William H. Walker, major and in- 
spector; Thomas E. Garvin, major and judge advocate; Victor Bisch, major 
and paymaster; Martin Klauss, major and chief of artillery; Cyrus K. Drew, 
captain and aide-de-camp; William E. Hollingsworth served as lieutenant 
colonel. Henry C. Gwathmey also as lieutenant colonel ; Morris S. Johnson, 
major; John Sonntag, adjutant; Charles S. Wells, quartermaster; Robert 
Early, quartermaster; Joseph P. Elliot, quartermaster; August Ellis, Albert 
Rimroth and Charles Edelman were in the artillery. In the artillery in 1861 
were W. H. Chandler, captain; F. W. Cook, first lieutenant and captain; 
John Nurre, first lieutenant; George H. Stockwell, second lieutenant. In 
the old Evansville Rifles in 1861 William E. French was captain: C. H. But- 
terfield, first lieutenant; I. Haas, second lieutenant. In fact, almost every 
young man in the city and even some of the older ones, who were almost 
incapable of bearing arms, were in this legion and served their time during 
the war, while a great number entered the regular army and rose to high 
positions as noted elsewhere. As fast as companies could be organized, they 
were supplied with arms and accoutrements and they drilled frequently and 
with such success, that in a few months they were almost equal in their 
knowledge of military tactics as the soldiers of the regular army. It is a 
fact that during the entire war there never was a guerrilla attack on the city 
of Evansville and simply for the reason that there was always at all times, 
day or night, a body of at least 1,000 men who could be in line and ready for 
action within half an hour from the sound of the alarm. While Buckner 
was at Bowling Green and Russelville, there were frequent demonstrations 
made in this direction and at one time General Buckner sent a force to destroy 
the lock at Spottsville, but a regiment from here quickly marched there, 
accompanied by a detail of artillery under Colonel Hollingsworth and they 
produced such an impression that the enemy did not dare attack them. Kt 
times there were scouting parties gotten up who went into various parts of 
Kentucky up and down the Ohio river looking into the position of the con- 
federates and they were of great service in imparting their news to the 
regular army. The city was kept guarded at all times and no body of con- 
federates could approach from any direction without an alarm being given. 
Our sister city of Henderson was even threatened as it had only a small 
command of Union troops, but in several instances details were sent there 
who so aided them that Henderson never suffered. The greatest alarm 
occasioned here was when Adam Johnson raided Newburg in July, 1862. 
Word was brought here that a large band of Kentucky guerillas were sacking 
the little town. The danger signal was given and in less than an hour 1,000 
men were under arms. Two steamers, the Eugene and the Courier were 
rapidly filled and proceeded to Newburgh but they found nothing except the 
boat in which the guerillas crossed and recrossed again into Kentucky and 
this was discarded. Again in September five companies went to Owensboro 
to repel an attack. In 1863 in July at the time of the John Morgan raid, 
there was great excitement here and every company in the county rallied 


with full ranks and went into camp until it was found that the alarm was 
false. At one time a part of the legion joined with General Hovey and went 
over into Kentucky to Morganfield and routed the troops of Johnson and 
Seipert. These latter troops had planned an invasion into southern Indiana 
but were put to flight. The John Morgan raid of which so much has been 
written, was intended to break up railroad communication and prepare for 
the capture of Louisville and Cincinnati by General Buckner. His raid did 
a great amount of damage. He levied large sums of money, took good horses 
and by his rapid movements created terror all along the border. Col. J. M. 
Shackle ford was stationed in Kentucky at that time and kept up an almost 
daily fight with guerillas, who swarmed over that country. His work was so 
effective that he was made a brigadier genral and placed in command of the 
first brigade. The capture of John Morgan's forces by General Shackleford 
is a well-known matter of history. He followed Morgan with such rapidity 
that it was impossible for the leader to get back to the south. In one case 
the chase lasted 57 miles and at its conclusion, by a flank movement, Mor- 
gan's retreat was cut off. He took refuge on an immense bluff near Keizer 
creek. A flag was sent up demanding an unconditional surrender of Morgan 
and his band. A personal interview with General Shackleford was asked 
and at its conclusion the entire force surrendered. It was supposed that 
Morgan himself was with them but he had escaped and fled to the south. 
There were some 1,300 men with their horses and arms captured on this 
occasion. On learning that Morgan had escaped, General Shackleford kept 
after him and finally caught him on the New Lisbon road. Morgan claimed 
that he had already surrendered to a militia officer but General Shackelford 
said that he had followed him for 30 days and nights and demanded his 
surrender to him. This was done and Morgan was delivered over to Major 
General Burnside at Cincinnati. In spite of the fact that Indiana had been 
so prompt in furnishing soldiers and had even furnished more than her quota, 
when the draft was made August 4, 1862, for 300,000 it was claimed that 
Indiana was short. The shortage was very small and it soon afterwards 
became known that there was no shortage but that as stated, the state had 
furnished more than her quota. The governor and leading citizens deplored 
the fact that a draft on Indiana had been called for, for it was looked on 
as a mark of disgrace. As a matter of fact, when the draft was ordered, 
even despite the fact that many Vanderburg County men enlisted in other 
states, there was a deficiency of only 81 men — certainly a very small short- 
age. Of this Armstrong had 19. Scott 19 and German Township 43. In 
1864 when the 500,000-men call was made, the county was asked to furnish 
1,353 nien. Much to the surprise of those who asked it, it was found that 
we already had to our credit, 1,206 new volunteer recruits, 63 veterans re- 
enlisted and 97 draft men, thus making the surplus of 13 over what were 
needed. In 1865 all efforts to raise troops was abandoned and at that date 
the county was charged with a quota of 318 men and was credited with 323 
men, thus showing a surplus of five. 


During the war and just afterwards there was a great deal of talk 
about bounties and marvelous tales were told of men who were too cow- 
ardly to answer the call to arms and who were willing to pay enormous 
sums to substitutes. These reports were as a rule, greatly exaggerated. 
There were at that time, men of absolutely no character who made a good 
thing out of the war, as "Bounty Jumpers." These men would go to a citi- 
zen and agree with him to enlist in his name, accepting therefor a certain 
sum as a bounty. They would get the money and then go and enlist all 
right and possibly hang around headquarters for a day or two, when they 
would suddenly disappear and as the country at that time was filled with 
refugees, the riff-rafif of the army and all sorts of tough characters, one 
can easily imagine how hard it would be to trace these men up, so it was no 
unusual thing for a "Bounty Jumper" to obtain half a dozen bounties, for 
instance in the lower part of this state and then jump into Ohio or any 
other nearby state and go over the same thing. Thousands of these men 
were never caught, but as these ill-gotten gains were soon squandered in 
dissipation, about the only sufferer, was the man who paid for the substi- 
tute. As a matter of fact, the bounties paid by the United States were from 
$iOO to $200 which sums increased as the war advanced. At first they were 
not needed at all, as the quota of each state was filled without any question. 
Then small bounties were paid for the purpose of helping the families of 
volunteers. Still later, large sums were offered but were offered by the 
counties. The families of the first volunteers were never at any time in any 
distress. Our people took good care of them. The first large meeting was 
at Mozart hall, in August, 1861, when arrangements were made to extend 
aid to these families of volunteers no matter how long the war should last. 
At this meeting John S. Hopkins, William T. Page, Rudolph Kehr, William 
Heilman, Anthony Reis, Charles Babcock, Philip Hombrook, Dr. Hallock, 
and many other prominent citizens took part and appointed committees who 
immediately went to work. Of course at this time they had no idea that a 
bloody war of four years would continue. One of the first public responses 
to this meeting was in November, 1863, when the farmers of the entire 
county seemed to come in. They formed in an immense procession with 
bands of music and they had all sorts of wagons filled with wood and every 
product of the farms. There was plenty to bum and plenty to eat for every 
one. The air was full of patriotism. Speeches were made by Judge Will- 
iam F. Parrett and Captain William Reavis and a great supper was served 
to the farmers by Mrs. Dr. Walker, Mrs. Mayor Baker, Mrs. Bob Early, 
Miss Victoria Cody, who afterward married William R. Baker, and many 
others. In this procession alone, there were 130 wagon loads of wood. 
Even after the close of the war the county still continued to look after the 
families of all volunteers and no one can estimate the immense amount of 
money and goods that were freely given. Soldiers' widows and orphans 


were particularly cared for. None of them suffered. It is said that at 
a rough estimate, Vanderburg County gave at least $250,000 to its suffering 
people before the United States began giving pensions. As to pensions, cer- 
tainly no one now living can say that the United States has not done its duty. 
In fact, it has done its duty a thousand times over and the only mistake has 
been that in many cases, soldiers who bore the brunt of battle and suffered 
and were afterwards incapacitated for work, received only small bounties, 
while others who never received a scratch and hardly knew what the war 
meant, except as they read about it in the newspapers, received larger pen- 
sions. And in some cases when the claims were put in of late years, they 
have received back pensions which ran through a time when they were ab- 
solutely able-bodied and fit to work and had not in any way or shape, been 
hurt by their short term of service. It is this fact that has made so many 
who have groaned under taxation, a little bitter against the whole pension 
system. Yet, after all when we think of the great number of men who 
served and the difficulty in a great many cases, of arriving at just how much 
they suffered by the war, the pension officials can hardly be blamed for what 
they have done. Yet as a nation we cannot be too grateful to those who re- 
sponded to the country's call in its hour of need and we cannot as thinking 
men and honest men, fail to condemn the fact that thousands of unscrupu- 
lous fellows have used the giving of the undeserved pensions to further their 
own selfish interests. 


And so the great war ended, and the veterans, those who were still left, 
came back to their homes only too willing to take up the occupations that 
had been their's before the time of the country's peril. In the north and 
the south it was the same, except that we knew nothing of the wasted farms- 
the desolate homes of which in some cases only one or two lone chimneys 
marked what once had been the family home, which was the lot of so much 
of the once fair south. But to them it was a reversal of the old pioneer 
days, for they had to begin over again, with no money, no stock and noth- 
ing but their hands with which to carve out a livelihood, while that of the 
north had continued to prosper and vast fortunes had been made by un- 
scrupulous people who had used the war as a vehicle for making money. 
But it is safe to say that all were glad that it was over. But the military 
spirit did not entirely die out and the younger generation who had 'grown 
into young manhood during the war, thirsted for their share of military 
glory and in 1876 the Evansville Light Guards were organized with these 
esteemed veterans: Captain Charles Meyerhoff, Lientenant August Leich, 
and Lieutenant William Warren, as their officers. The late A. J. Mc- 
Cutchan became a captain and Philip C. Halbrook a second lieutenant of 
the company. But in the year 1883 the company was abandoned. In 1877, 
however, The Evansville Rifles was organized under the state militia law, 
with William M. Blakey, captain, Jacob Messick first lieutenant and Henry 


Hammersley second lieutenant. These were succeeded in turn by George 
A. Cuningham captain, Edgar Garvin first lieutenant and Harry Stinson 
second lieutenant. This organization took many prizes at competitive drills. 
On October, 1887, the Evansville Light Infantry company — First Regiment 
Indiana Legion was mustered into the state service. Its officers were W. 
D. Ewing, president, W. H. Caldwell, vice president, S. P. Gillett, treasurer, 
F. M. Gilbert, secretary, J. T. Groves, manager, and Charles H. McCarer, 
captain. The Evansville Rifles was also organized at the same time and 
commanded by Captain Henry Horster, First Lieutenant H. P. Cornick, 
and Second Lieutenant Julius Blum. 


The Grand Army of the Republic is the last outgrowth of all these 
troublous times. It was not instituted until long after the war when peace 
reigned, but it was composed exclusively of the survivors of the war. The 
pride of Evansville is Farragut Post, No. 27, Department of Indiana, which 
was organized June 24, 1881. In its ranks are men who have served in all 
branches of the army and in all parts of the country. Many of them were 
officers high in command and many were statesmen of national repute. 
But in this post they met on common ground and save for the military re- 
spect due to the officials who held office at the time being, the private and 
the general stood side by side in their parades. They instituted memorial 
day which will last until the last hero is laid away under the sod and even 
then I think that though there be not one left to march, the day will still 
be observed and the graves of the dead heroes will be decorated so long as 
this country will exist. This post has been boundless in charity and it is 
safe to say that while it exists, no needy one in any way affilliated with it, 
will ever feel want, and it deserves credit for trying to bring back harmony 
between the north and south. The reunion of the Blue and the Gray in 
1887 was held under the auspices of this post and was not only one of the 
greatest events in the history of Evansville, but of the entire country, it 
being the most successful practical effort of its kind known to the people 
of this nation. In the beautiful Oak Hill Cemetery lie many of those who 
wore the gray and who died for what they thought was right. But the same 
tender hands that place flowers over the mounds that cover all that is left 
of our own dead, do not pass them by, but with the same tender love, place 
their offerings over their graves. 

This post has two auxiliary branches, the Woman's Relief Corps and the 
Sons of Veterans. The former was instituted in 1885. During the writing 
of this work, another memorial day has come and gone and the author here 
introduces a well-written description of the exercises of the day, from the 
pen of Mr. E. B. Sisson. 




Sadly each year comes the story, 

Of the war that is past and gone. 
Of the banners, some flying in glory, 

And some that went down, forlorn. 
Of the men who had been as brothers, 

Till they met in the awful fight, 
Now, but a handful — the others 

Have sunk into endless night. 

Sadly love scatters her flowers 

On the graves that are side by side 
Useless, to bring back those hours, 

When men saw their duty, and died. 
Each knows his own heart, not another's. 

And he does what he thinks is right. 
But there's only a handful — the others 

Have sunk into endless night. 

Oh, slowly and sadly the story 

Goes out with the lengthening years, 
Till battle fields, trampled and gory. 

Are all washed away by our tears. 
And the heroes ! 'Again they are brothers. 

All broken and gray through Time's flight, 
Alas, but a handful — the others 

Have sunk into endless night. 





Another memorial day has passed and out in Oak Hill and Locust Hill 
cemeteries thousands of bouquets of flowers bear witness to the tribute paid 
by comrades and relatives to the valor of those veterans of the civil war who 
have answered the last roll call and those who have laid down their lives 
for the stars and stripes in the Spanish-American war. 

More than 20,CKX) people were present at Oak Hill in the afternoon yes- 
noon yesterday and listened to the services which were held under the 
auspices of Farragut Post No. 27, G. A. R. More than 2,000 were present 


at Locust Hill in the morning and it is estimated that 10,000 witnessed the 
parade of the old soldiers as they marched up Main street. 


Nearly every business house in Evansville was closed yesterday that the 
employes might join the holiday crowds and do honor to those veterans of 
the civil and Spanish-American wars who have gone to their reward. 

From early morning until mid afternoon crowds thronged the streets 
and waited for the parade of the soldiers. Every car available by the street 
car company was put in commission, and it was with the greatest difficulty 
that the crowds were handled. Crowds of people rushed to Oak Hill ceme- 
tery hours before the services at that place were to begin, and it was almost 
dark when the last of them were able to get cars back to the city. 

More than fifty large baskets of flowers had been donated, and after a 
bunch had been laid at the head of each of the graves many baskets of 
roses, sweetpeas, mignonettes and vines were distributed broadcast between 
the lines of head stones. 


More than 2,000 people were present at the service held at 9 o'clock 
yesterday morning at Locust Hill cemetery and participated in the decora- 
tion of the graves of the old veterans. The crowds began gathering in the 
cemetery soon after 7 o'clock, and when the members of the G. A. R. and 
those who accompanied them arrived, hundreds of graves were found to 
have already been decorated by those unable to be present at the ceremony, 
or who went early in order to avoid the jam of the crowds in the street 

At the Locust Hill cemetery D. H. Ortmeyer delivered the oration of 
the day. Following a selection a medley of national airs by Warren's band, 
the services were begun with the recitation of the opening service from the 
ritual of the G. A. R., by S. V. Commander Green B. Fields when a prayer 
was offered by Rev. M. W. Sunderman. This was followed by a recita- 
tion of Lincoln's address delivered at Gettysburg, after which there was an- 
other selection by the band. The oration by D. H. Ortmeyer was then de- 
livered, which was enthusiastically received by the audience. Then followed 
the decoration of the graves by the members of the G. A. R., after which 
taps was blown by the post bugler, Philip Klein. The services were closed 
with a benediction by Sunderman. 


Rev. Gaiser's oration- at Oak Hill was enthusiastically received by the 
audience, and many an old soldier's hand shook and his eyes burned brighter 


as memories of pains and hardships and memories of the noise of battle 
crowded upon him with the reminiscences of the speaker. 

Rev. Gaiser, in his oration, proclaimed the slavery question as the chief 
issue of the war between the states. He told of the bitterness that arose be- 
tween the people of the North and the people of the South ; how when the 
fires of the revolution burned low the Mason and Dixon line was estab- 
lished ; and when, following the secession of eleven of the southern states 
and blood had been shed, the great constitutional questions were submitted 
to the god of war. 

He told of the strange flag that was thrown to the breeze in which domi- 
nated the stars and bars. He told of how the boys in blue beneath Old 
Glory and the boys in gray had met eye to eye, foot to foot, steel to steel, 
facing triumph and defeat, until the final rifting of the war clouds and the 
god of war had forever declared for the stars and stripes. 

He pictured the possible conditions had Old Glory gone down in defeat ; 
how the Ohio would be as the Rhine of Germany, how Sunset park would 
now be a fort, while across the river the guns of the Confederacy would be 
trained on Evansville and the United States. He pictured war after war as 
the possible result of the United States refusing a treaty with terms of ex- 
tradition, for runaway slaves, and the hundreds of thousands of lives that 
would have been sacrificed had not the northern army established this as a 
free country. 


He paid tribute to the women of the north, that part of the army of the 
republic that stayed at home and fought with bandages and lint for men's 
lives, and who, instead of asking, "Are you friend or foe," asked "Where 
are you shot?" 

"Such women," he said, "as Mrs. Hodge and Margaret Breckenridge ; 
such women as Mrs. Brady in the swamps of Chicahominy and Annie Ross 
in the old copper shop hospital, going to men whose wounds, undressed for 
days, lying on the battle fields, with pillows and blankets that made them 
think of home and mother, are deserving of as much honor as are the men 
who went out to fight with gun and saber. And the mothers, wives and 
daughters, the women's relief corps, who have pledged themselves to let 
no old soldier suflFer are doing as great a work as was done by the women 
on the battle fields and in the hospitals." 


The parade was formed at the corner of Second and Locust streets, and 
before i o'clock old soldiers were mingling and shaking hands, talking over 
the days of the civil war. Promptly at 1 130 o'clock the procession started, 
marching down Locust to First street, along First street to Main, turning 

gexp:ral offices of the e\axs\ in i'.lic school:^ 


in to Sixth street, and thence down Sixth street to Canal, where they boarded 
the dummy for the cemetery. 

The parade was headed by a squal of Evansville poHce. Following 
them came Major Rosencranz, chief marshal of the day, and his staff. 
Then came Company E of the Indiana National Guard, followed by War- 
ren's band. Next came the old soldiers, 133 members of the Farragut post 
out of the 309 being able to participate in the parade. Following the vet- 
erans was a carriage containing Rev. J. M. Gaiser, Rev. J. H. Scheik, Rev. 
S. P. Sanson, chaplain of the post, and little Gretchen Leich, daughter of 
the regiment. A company of twenty-six veterans of the Spanish American 
war was the last in the line of procession. 


At the intersection of the dummy line and the car tracks the parade 
was formed again and marched the quarter of a mile to the cemetery gate 
where they were joined by the Women's Relief corps and the members of 
the graduating class of the high school who were to distribute the flowers 
over the graves. The parade was disbanded at the stand. 

In the stand were seated the women of the relief corps, Past Post Com- 
mander of Farragut Post, No. 27, Major Rosencranz and his staff, the 
clergy, the speakers of the day, the high school students and the daughter 
of the regiment. Immediately in front of the stand seats were arranged 
for the veterans of the civil war. Conspicuous among the crowd of old sol- 
diers was a number, enfeebled in mind as well as in body, brought over from 
Woodmere, that they, too, might do honor to those of their comrades who 
have answered the last roll call. 


At 3 o'clock the program, beginning with a selection by Warren's band, 
was rendered. There was an address by Post Commander Chas. Kretch- 
mar, prayer by Rev. H. J. Schiek, and the reading of Lincoln's Gettysburg 
address by Adjutant Aug. Leich. Dr. J. M. Gaiser spoke. 

While the band again played, the procession formed in line and started 
for the enclosed section of the cemetery where slept those whose memory 
was being commemorated. With slow tread they marched single file and 
completed a circle around the graves of their dead, while Post Commander 
Charles Kretchmar, with his staff, faced the setting sun beneath the flag 
pole on which Old Glory dropped at half mast. 

Following another selection by Warren's band, Captain Kretchmar read 
from the ritual of the G. A. R. the Memorial day rites, after which the vet- 
erans with bared heads, saluted their dead comrades. 



The roll call of the dead was by far the most impressive ceremony dur- 
ing the day. The base of the monument surmounted by an ivy encircled 
banner shield, was entirely covered with evergreens, and as the muffled roll 
of the drums answered to the name of each dead soldier, a small flag was 
placed among the vines by Spanish war veterans as they marched around 
the enclosure. When the last name had been called by Adjutant August 
Leich the base was entirely covered with the 189 small flags. 

While the band played a dirge, Selma David, Marguerite Klauss, Irene 
Tolsdorfer, Jennie Covert, Margaret Schlaepfer, Lillian Ellerbush, Mary 
Fisher, Ralph Guthrie, Clyde Bums, Harry Strohm and Reuben Levi, the 
members of the high school senior class who volunteered, dropped a bunch 
of flowers at the head of each grave. 

Following taps by Philip Klien, post bugler, three volleys were fired over 
the graves by Company E of the Indiana national guard, after which the 
benediction was given by Rev. H. J. Sheik, the post chaplain. 

In this round of the heroic deeds of the soldiers of Indiana, I have had 
almost nothing to say about the war with Spain, for the reason that it could 
hardly be considered a war and the opportunities for fame were very few 
as were the deaths and casualties. Most of the men who went from this 
vicinity were young in years and the war was so brief and so quickly ter- 
minated by the grand work of the navy, that the field soldiers had little to 
do. Their chief loss was from climatic influences. Many a poor fellow 
went down there into that miasma-laden region and sowed the seeds of 
early death in his constitution. But as compared to any other war in which 
the United States has been concerned, the Spanish affair is really hardly 
worthy of mention and I am compelled to say that the great majority of 
the people of the United States today think that the war was utterly un- 
called for. It was simply a result of what is known as jingoism or in other 
words, professional politics. Matters have come to light recently which 
have made things very plain to thinking people and it will be a very bad 
thing for the professional politician of the future who, to further his own 
selfish ends, embroils this country with any other in a war of any kind. 
There never was a good war. There never would be a war in my opinion, 
if professional politicians would keep their hands off. There are many to- 
day who are opposed to the enormous outlay of money that is yearly spent 
on warships. They claim that there is absolutely no necessity for them and 
in this claim they are endorsed by almost all thinking people. The United 
States today is too strong to be attacked by any nation on the face of the 
earth. The implements of war are rapidly changing. As this work is being 
written we have reports of the successful solving of the airship problem. 
Of the daily travel of what is really an airship railway so to speak, between 
two cities in Germany where even meals are served while one is traveling 
through the air and the stops are made on schedule time. Solving the air- 


ship question solves the military question. There will never be any further 
need for great armies on land. The battles will be fought in the air. Just 
as the little torpedo boats can steer from one to another and ruin an entire 
fleet of vast steamships and fighting vessels costing milions and millions of 
dollars, so can a fragile airship hover over a city and drop bombs which will 
rend it to pieces. So, what is the use of vessels which can either be de- 
stroyed by a torpedo boat under the water, or an airship above? A single 
bomb from either of them would tear them to pieces. As to this matter of 
the war with Spain, I wish to put on record, some remarks by the late 
Speaker Reed. It will be admitted by all who knew this man, that he was 
a brainy men in the strict sense of the word and never talked about any- 
thing on which he was not thoroughly posted. So as stated, I wish to put 
on record, certain remarks about the Spanish war which Mr. Reed made 
while in company with Mr. Cummings. The account, which was published 
in all the big papers, was as follows: 

"Mr. Reed and Mr. Cummings accompanied me back to my hotel. Af- 
ter we had walked out on the pier at the seashore I invited the two gentle- 
men into the cafe at the hotel to take a lemonade. We sat down at a table, 
and were there together perhaps an hour. Naturally the conversation 
drifted to the subject so much discussed at the time, the Spanish war. Dur- 
ing the conversation I said what was being so commonly remarked every- 
where, that 'After the blowing up of the Maine by the Spaniards in the har- 
bor at Havana nothing in the world could have prevented the war.' At this 
trite remark, Speaker Reed, in his well-known drawing voice and his most 
sarcastic manner, said : 'Lamb, does anybody out in Indiana believe that 
the Spaniards blew up the Maine?' I said, 'Why yes, nearly everybody I 
know believes it.' 'Well,' he said, I don't know about that, but they don't 
anywhere else.' This nettled me a little, and I said, rather sharply, 'Mr. 
Speaker, what do you mean by that remark?' 

"He said, 'I mean just what I said. I mean that the Spaniards did not 
blow up the Maine. I mean that the explosion was internal and not exter- 
nal. I mean that the board of inquiry, which made the investigation knows 
that it was an internal and not an external explosion. I mean that Ad- 
miral Sampson knows the explosion was internal and not external. I mean 
that the naval committee of the house knows, and that Amos Cummings 
here, who is a member of it, knows that the explosion was internal and not 
external. I mean that President McKinley knows that the explosion was 
internal and not external. 

" 'I mean further that on the Saturday before congress met in the spe- 
cial session, which declared war on Spain, that I was sent for by the presi- 
dent to come to the White House and read the message which he intended 
to send to congress on Monday, a message which advised that Spain's re- 
quest for arbitration be granted, and which I heartily approved. On the 
Sunday following, however, Mark Hanna, Stephen B. Elkins and a few 
others of that ilk went to the White House and persuaded the president 


that if he sent that message in on Monday the republicans would lose the 
fall elections and perhaps the control of the national house of representa- 
tives with the result that the message was destroyed and the next day at 
noon the message from the president was received by congress, which made 
the declaration of war inevitable.' 

"Mr. Reed spoke with great emphasis and a considerable feeling and did 
not even suggest that the conversation should be regarded as confidential, 
but did say that 'the time had not yet come to talk.' Because of that state- 
ment I never repeated except to a few close friends, what he had said until 
now. Mr. Cummings alluded to it in a veiled way in a letter which he wrote 
to the New York Sun from Palm Beach." 

I hope that this account will be read carefully. It is published without 
any desire to reflect on the republican party, but it simply shows to what 
extremes big politcians will go to achieve victories for their respective 
parties. Mr. Reed says plainly that the sinking of the Maine was an acci- 
dent ; that the explosion was internal and not external — that the board of 
investigation knew this — that Trimble Simpson knew this — that the naval 
committee of the house knew it and that Mr. Cummings knew it. He goes 
further and uses the direct words, "And I mean that President McKinley 
knows that the explosion was internal and not external." Mr. Reed then 
goes on to say that he went to President McKinley and read a message which 
it was the latter's intent to send to Spain and which would have done away 
with any attempt at war and that the president heartily approved the message. 
But mark this closely. On the next Sunday, Mark Hanna, Stephen B. Elkins 
and a few others, went to the White House and persuaded the president that 
if he sent that peaceful message, the republicans would lose the fall elections 
and perhaps the control of the national house of representatives. They in- 
duced Mr. McKinley to destroy the peace message and send the one which 
made war inevitable. Now what does this mean? Look the matter right 
in the face. These few men in their desire to gain political power, cared 
nothing whatever for what might have meant the loss of thousands of 
innocent lives by fire and sword. The loss of other thousands through the 
dangerous diseases that are so rapidly acquired by northern people who go 
to the miasma swamps of the south. Yet what did they care? There might 
be widows left with no husbands to support them ; there might be families 
whose growing sons had been their pride since babyhood, who would be 
cut down and left in these swamps to fill unknown graves ; there might be a 
sister who, with her brother taken away, might spend the whole of her life 
struggling to keep body and soul together ; there might be girls who kissed 
their lovers goodbye never to look on their faces again and whose whole 
future was ruined by the sundering of this first early tie. But what was this 
to Hanna and Elkins and those other great patriots? Instead of giving their 
names any honor — instead of ever speaking of them as honorable men, the 
stigma of eternal disgrace should be heaped on every memory connected 
with them. Any man who would willingly lend himself to sacrifice the lives 


of his fellowmen to keep his party in power ought to be shot like a common 
yellow dog. He has not, in his being, the first principles of manhood or 
charity to his fellowmen. He is a selfish, self-conceited cowardly cur and 
wolf, who would pull down the defenceless and fatten himself upon their 
blood. If this shocks any professional politician, let him understand that 
it is not his party that I am attacking, but the methods of any party that will 
permit such a crime against humanity as that committed by Mark Hanna, 
Stephen B. Elkins and those others who made McKinley change his mind. 








While Evansville can well be called a city of homes and also the city of 
schools, it can well be called the city of churches, for congregations of 
almost every denomination known to the civilized world have their beau- 
tiful churches here. The majority of them are beautiful buildings showing 
the best style of architecture and are roomy and substantially built. It 
seems to be generally acknowledged by everyone, that the little church that 
stood on the hill where the rear of the Strouse Brothers Building now 
stands, was the first real church in the town of Evansville. Next to it 
and almost on the alley, was a little white building which was used as the 
Sunday school for the church. I think that during the week there was 
always some kind of a day school taught there. For quite a number of 
years after Hugh McGary came here, there was no thought of building 
a regular church. The preaching that was done was by circuit riders, who 
traveled from village to village, their only baggage being a pair of saddle 
bags and usually a rifle with which they often killed their own game, and 
they held little meetings in the houses in the villages or often in the open 
air, except at the time of the camp meeting when a number of circuit riders 
were joined together and selected a camping ground and held joint meet- 
ings and at these times the differences in religious beliefs were all forgotten. 
The preacher of the early day was far different from the one of the pres- 
ent. The more stern his behavior, the more austere his bearing,- and the 
fewer times he smiled, or showed that he had any warm blood in his being, 
the better preacher he was supposed to be. He was also long winded and 
when visiting at houses, instead of offering a short Grace before meals, 
he never missed an opportunity to indulge in a long-winded affair, while 
the viands were growing cold. This is not intended to reflect for one 
moment on religion but it simply goes to show how times change, and how 
the thoughts of people change as they become modernized and more famil- 
iar with what the bible really means. The old time preacher preached hell 


-1'" I i 




and damnation to everybody except the few who were like himself and 
imagined that this life must be a kind of walking graveyard in order to 
achieve any bliss in the hereafter. If one of these preachers attempted to 
preach an old-time sermon in these days, he would not have three people 
in his audience at his next meeting. People have learned to believe that 
God is Love instead of an iron-hearted taskmaster whose only joy was in 
bringing all kinds of affliction to the people. One has only to read the 
books and papers and even the religious papers of the present day and see 
how entirely these old beliefs are exploded. The preacher of today who 
is most loved, honored and respected, is a man among men and a man who 
does not believe that he is any better than you are. He mingles with your 
family as a friend and not as a sort of stern and cruel supervisor who sits 
at your table in judgment over every act even of your innocent little chil- 
dren. But this has nothing to do with the early churches. This little 
church on the hill was a one-story brick edifice. The seats were without 
cushions, save where the congregation made their own and the pulpit was 
at first a dry goods box from the store of John Shanklin ; afterwards a 
primitive wooden pulpit with a small pillar on each side, on which to place 
the candles and afterwards the sperm oil lamps that were used. This 
first church was the foundation of what is known now as the Walnut Street 
church. It was constituted in 1821 by Rev. H. C. Banks, who at that time 
was pastor of a church of the same denomination at Henderson, or the 
Red Banks, as it was then called. Daniel Chute, James Goodlett, William 
Olmstead, Mrs. Fairchild, Mrs. Harrison, Mrs. Wood, Mrs. Chandler, Mrs. 
Butler, Mr. Smith, Eli Sherwood and Elijah and Mary O. Warner, were 
the original members of this church. For more than ten years there was 
no church building at all and this little congregation met at various pri- 
vate homes and sometimes in an old log school house that stood on Locust 
street. They also met at the court house on the soutli corner of Main and 
Third streets. The court house had no floors and the seats had no backs. 
The puncheon seats made out of split logs with four legs driven into auger 
holes were the only seats then in use. In the winter the fire was simply made 
against the walls and the smoke was supposed to escape from a badly built 
frame chimney, but for some reason it rarely drew and the congregation 
were many times forced to leave the building on account of the smoke. 

In 1 83 1 Rev. Calvin Butler of Princeton attempted to build a church 
but was unsuccessful. A year afterwards he moved his family to Evans- 
ville but still found that it was impossible to get the subscriptions necessary 
to build a church. It was decided to send him east and he went there and 
appealed to various men of means of his denomination and succeeded in 
raising $1,300 and this was what built the little church on the hill. At that 
time it was considered a marvel of architecture, though it was only 50 feet 
long, 30 feet wide and 18 feet high. It had eight windows, with forty panes 
of glass in each, 10 by 12 and two doors in the front. This building stood 
for a great many years until the ground was sold and the proceeds used 


as a part of the money for the building o fthe new church, which was the 
beautiful Walnut Street church at the corner of Second and Walnut. In 
1825 Rev. Robert Parrett, who was born in England, but had immigrated 
here, established what was called "The Evansville Class," an organization 
of the Methodist church and this was the second religious society in this 
city. From our records we see that as early as 181 1 circuit riders had 
pushed their way all through the wilderness in this section and held their 
little meetings wherever a little band could be gotten together. The pay 
they received was a mere nothing but while I may have been severe in 
speaking of their ways of imparting religious doctrine, I want to say that 
I know their hearts were in their work and if they received a bare living 
that was all they wanted. Their payment was in the approval of their con- 
sciences. It is stated that the first meetings were what might really be 
called church meetings, were held at Warner's tavern near First and Lo- 
cust. It is also said that while Mr. Warner allowed a great deal of drink- 
ing and carousing in his tavern, it was only necessary to send him word 
that there would be a religious meeting and the building would be quickly 
relieved of the crowd, the place swept clean and ready for the meeting and 
he also notified his patrons that they could not come back into the building 
while the services were going on. 

In 1838 William Bayless came here and through his ability as a speaker, 
greatly strengthened the membership of the church and the Methodists soon 
had their own building. It was 40 by 60 feet and cost $5,600. They re- 
tained this house until 1865 when the great Trinity Church at the corner of 
Third and Chestnut was built. In December, 1835, ^^^v. Jackson Kemper, a 
misionary Episcopal bishop of the northwest came here to preach and a few 
Episcopalians who were here met at the store of Goodsell and Lyon, to see 
if a church could not be built. William Towne presided at the meeting and 
James Lockhart was secretary. An organization was eflfected which was 
called St. Pauls' church. In 1839 an edifice was erected and consecrated in 
January, 1840, by Bishop Kemper, acting bishop of the Indiana diocese. It 
was later enlarged and was the handsomest church building in this section 
of the country. It was torn down to make way for the present Episcopal 
church which occupies the same site at the comer of First and Chestnut. 

The first Catholic organization south of Vincennes, was Assumption par- 
ish founded in 1836. This was the only Catholic church in the city until 
1857 when Holy Trinity parish was organized. The first priest of Assump- 
tion was Father Deydier, who was a missionary who came on horse back 
from the city of Mexico in 1836. There were few Catholics here at that 
time, although Vincennes had always been known as a Catholic city, but 
in 1838 the sum of $1,200 was raised and two years later a church was 
built on the ground where the Waverly building, formerly the Business 
Men's Association, now stands. This was a two-story brick which stood up 
above a basement in which a Catholic school was taught. Later a Catholic 
sister's home was built on the corner of the same lot, while the home of the 


priest was on the alley where the Grand Opera house now stands. In fact, 
the Catholics gradually acquired this quarter of a square. The old church 
was afterwards sold as were the other buildings and it stood for some 
time before being demolished, and was actually used as a sort of playhouse 
before it was finally torn down. For many years it was one of the land 
marks here and the ringing of its bell took the place of watches for a great 
many who lived in that section of the city. 

Returning to the little church on the hill, when I came here, Rev. Will- 
iam H. McCarer was the pastor, he having come here in 1849. He contin- 
ued with the church for 18 long years, in fact, until the time when old age 
crept upon him and he was no longer able to conduct the big church which 
had grown out of the little building. When he came there were only some 
30 members but nearly 300 joined while he was in the pulpit. During the 
last of his life, he preached at the church on First avenue. His name will 
always be a household word among Presbyterians here, as he was a much 
loved and most conscientious minister, whose gentle bearing made him a 
host of friends. During the erection of the big Walnut Street church, meet- 
ings were held in the basement, and the church, as fully completed, was 
formally dedicated in February, 1863, Rev. Dr. Tuttle, president of Wabash 
College, preaching the sermon. A Philadelphia architect designed the build- 
ing which was probably worth some $60,000. It will seat 1,050 people. 
When first built, the choir loft was at the back of the building and in this 
Mrs. Lizzie Shanklin, Mrs. Cyrus K. Drew, Mrs. Blythe Hynes, and other 
noted lady singers, and Prof. Tinker, Samuel E. Gilbert, James E. Mason, 
Luke Wood, Constant DeLang, a brother of Mrs. E. T. McNeely, and oth- 
ers, formed the male part of the little choir. The choir is now grown to 
large proportions and occupies a place in the rear of the pulpit and is con- 
sidered one of the best in the city. 

A beautiful parsonage was built just next to this building by Mr. James 
L. Orr and his sister, Mrs. Martha Bayard, who erected it as a memorial 
to their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Orr, one of the most beloved couples 
ever known in the history of Evansville. For some 3 years Rev. Kumler, 
a brother of the late Daniel B. Kumler, was pastor of this church and it was 
filled from time to time by various ministers until the Rev. L. M. Gilleland 
came here in 1884 and continued for many long years. The church is in a 
most prosperous condition and now has a membership of about 325 and 
their present pastor is Rev. John Kennedy. 

It was in the year 1837 that the Presbyterian church of the United 
States separated into two bodies known as the old school and the new school. 
Its division extended to this little town and resulted in a split-up of the 
members. The majority went to the present Walnut Street church, while 
the minority instituted the Vine Street church which is the old building 
now used as a livery stable, at the corner of Vine and Second. This was a 
very small building at first and an addition was built to it, which brought 
it directly against the walls of the old two-story frame in its rear, which 


was then occupied by Dr. Byford for many a year. It is strange to think 
how many years the old brick and the old frame have stood next to each 
other. Below them, the houses once occupied by Jacob Sinzich and John 
Green, two old pioneers of the city were destroyed by fire and the place 
never having been built again, a vacant lot still remains to show where they 
once stood. There were very few members in the original Grace church and 
their first pastor was Rev. J. V. Dodge, who was installed in 1841. The 
ordination took place in St. Paul's Episcopal church. The next pastor of 
note was Rev. Alex Sterret, who was a most forcible speaker and who was 
in charge of the congregation from 1850 until 1865. He built what is now 
known as the old Bedford home out on Washington avenue, almost with 
his own hands, laying the brick and doing much of the carpenter work him- 
self. At that time the house was out in the woods. I have shot many wild 
pigeons between his house and the city, as there was a low place in the rear 
in which pin acrons grew plentifully and they were the favorite diet of this 
now extinct bird. Dr. C. B. K. Martin was minister from 1866 to 1881. He 
was a very scholarly and eloquent man and did much good to his church. 
After him came the Rev. James L. J^IcNair and it was during his pastorate 
that the beautiful annex building was built by Mr. and Mrs. David J. Mac- 
key, in honor of Mrs. Mackey's parents, John and Sarah Law. The Grace 
church building cost about $70,cxx) and is beautifully finished and furnished 
throughout. It has a seating capacity of about 700 persons. Its architect 
was Robert Boyd, foremerly of this city. The annex cost some $20,000. 

The First Avenue Presbyterian church was the outgrowth of the little 
church on the hill and was built in 1876. Forty-six members withdrew for 
the purpose of forming this new church and Rev. W. H. McCarer was in- 
stalled as pastor. The building of this church grew out of the fact that the 
church proper felt the necessity of building a church further out in the 
rapidly growing city, as the old church was so far down town. Mr. McCarer 
served at this church until his death, in 1880. 

Still another Presbyterian church was the Cumberland, whose beautiful 
building was lately sold to the Masons and is now the Masonic hall of Evans- 
ville. This church originated in 1810 in Tennessee, with only three members, 
which increased very rapidly and crossed the Ohio through its circuit riders, 
as early as 1817, holding camp meetings in various parts of southern Indiana. 
'A great many converts were made. The first congregation of Cumberland 
Presbyterians was organized by Rev. William Lynn, with only 20 members. 
They met in a log school house in Knight Township in 1841. For many long 
years after 1851 the old Cumberland church as it was then known, stood at 
the corner of Second and Chestnut, where the Owen block now stands. 
Like the old Catholic church, it was an old landmark known to everyone. It 
suffered from a severe fire just after it was built but was at once rebuilt and 
in a more substantial manner than before. Among the old members were 
Mr. and Mrs. John C. Henson, Mr. and Mrs. Marcus Sherwood, Mrs. Judge 
Mathew Foster and Mrs. Paulina McCallister. A great number of ministers 


served here, many of them coming from the south, where the doctrines of 
the church were first promulgated and among them was the Rev. WiUiam 
Burrows, who felt that his duty to the south called liim there and who 
entered the confederate army and was killed in battle. It was in 1891 that 
Rev. W. J. Darby became pastor, and it is safe to say that no more active 
minister ever held a pulpit in the city of Evansville. He was not only a fine 
minister but in his daily walks of life, he was a man of tireless energy, a 
fine business man in every sense of the word and to use an old expression, 
"a man among men." Their new building was erected in 1876 and dedicated 
in September, 1877. It has a seating capacity of about 700 and the pastor's 
study, the church parlors and Sunday school room were in the rear. It 
cost about $50,000, of which Marcus Sherwood for so long the proprietor 
of the Sherwood house, contributed $12,000. A branch of this church was 
also started on Jefferson avenue for the same reason that the Walnut street 
presbyterians branched out. A very neat brick chapel was erected at the 
cost of about $4,000 and it has always been a very popular little church. Its 
present pastor is Rev. A. D. Light. 

The Methodist church, or more properly the Methodist Episcopal church, 
is one of the oldest as well as one of the largest religious bodies in the city of 
Evansville. It is a matter of tradition that in the very old days of this part 
of the country there were really only two religious bodies, the Methodist 
and what were known as the Hardshell Baptist. 

The Episcopal church really owes its foundation in this country, to the 
advent of the English pioneers, who brought with them the tenets of what 
was known as the Church of England. It has been claimed by ardent Epis- 
copalians, that this should be called the Church of the World, for no coun- 
try has as many colonies as has England and in each of them the Episcopal 
service either low church or high church is always observed by the officials 
sent out by the mother country. Regarding this particular part of Indiana, 
it is known that Methodism really antedates its history. It is said that the 
first log cabins were hardly raised before the wandering preachers came 
through here, preaching the Methodist faith. In 181 1 what was known as 
the Patoka circuit was formed, which took in .the whole Wabash valley, 
below Vincennes, as far as the falls of Louisville. For many years they had 
no church at all, the good work being carried on by these preachers who on 
horseback, wandered from place to place. Two of the best known Metho- 
dists of the old times were Robert Parrett, an Englishman, and Joseph 
Wheeler, who believed in the teaching advanced by the great John Wesley. 
In fact, a great many of the original Methodists came from England, Rob- 
ert Parrett being born there in 1791. He was a resident of Posey county 
from the year 1891 and farmed in a small way, but preached whenever he 
had the opportunity. The first religious services ever held in Evansville 
were Methodist services,, in the double log warehouse of Hugh McGary, on 
the i2th of December, 1819. This sermon was preached by Rev. John 
Schrader but both Mr. Parrett and Mr. Wheeler were present. Evansville 


had been made a point in the Patoka circuit and a Hght tax had been put on 
her, for the support of the ministry. But as in those days the pay of a min- 
ister, as heretofore stated, was barely enough to keep him ahve, the tax was 
not a serious thing on any one. 

In 1 82 1 Dr. John W. Shaw put up a new building in Evansville right on 
the corner where the Chandler block now stands and he gave the Metho- 
dists freedom to use the front room of the new residence for a place of 
worship. The building was weatherboarded, but not plastered. They con- 
tinued to use this until 1824 when they got a room across the street adjoin- 
ing the Warner tavern, where they held services for three eyars. In 1825 
Rev. Parrett came here and organized the first Methodist church. In this 
church were Robert Parrett and wife, Martha Parrett, Mary Hopkins, John 
Lewis, Arthur Mcjohnson and others and of course. Rev. Wheeler was the 
preacher. There was intermarrying between the Hopkins, Parrett and 
Wheeler family and their descendants are among the best known people in 
Evansville today. Father Wheeler, as the Rev. Joseph Wheeler was called, 
was an Englishman born near Oxford, and a highly educated man. He was 
broad in his belief and not too much of a sectarian to preach for any 
church where a congregation desired religious services and he for a time, 
supplied the pulpit of the Walnut Street church. He lived to be 86 years 
old and his whole life was spent in doing good. He was a very vigorous 
man and rarely used a saddle horse. His great pride was that he could go 
almost any distance on foot, without tiring. In 1864 the congregation built 
the church. Their first regular church was a small building where the 
Lottie barber shop now stands. It had a basement which was afterwards 
used as the United States postoffice. The building was very small and as 
the followers of the creed increased very rapidly, it was soon decided to 
build a new church which is the present magnificent building at the corner 
of Third and Chestnut. This was dedicated in the spring of 1866. It cost 
at that time, $100,000 but much money has been spent on it since then in 
various changes. Rev. Andrus was the first regular preacher. At present 
it has a membership of 850 and its pastor is Rev. A. M. Farr. In 1880 Rev. 
Fred C. Iglehart, a son of Judge Asa Iglehart and an old schoolmate of 
mine, occupied the pulpit of this church. In 1851 the Methodist church es- 
tablished a Mission church on Ingle street, which had 25 members at the 
beginning. This was soon found to be entirely too small for the growing 
congregation, so in 1874 a handsome new building was erected in its place 
which now stands on Ingle street between Seventh and Eighth. 

Kingsley church is also another branch organized in 1868. This was at 
the corner of Eighth and Gum street, but later on it was decided to give up 
this building as a church, and it was sold and it is now used as a gymnasium 
and a school for the Turners, and is supervised by Prof. Julius Doerter. 

Simpson chapel of the same church was built in 1861 on Pennsylvania 
street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues but afterwards it was sold and a 
new building erected at the comer of Illinois street and Eleventh avenue. 


There was also a German Methodist Episcopal church which was organized 
in 1842. They built a small house of worship which cost only about $1,200 
and for 22 long years continued to use it, when they replaced it with a 
large brick structure at the corner of Fourth and Vine. There is also a fine 
schoolhouse on this lot which is one of the best localities in the city. The 
Second German Methodist church was built as a mission in 1887 on Indiana 
street, between Eleventh and Twelfth avenues. There are many Metho- 
dists among the colored people and they have for worship, four churches of 
their own which are doing wonderful work among these people. St. Paul's 
Episcopal church which has been referred to, as having been founded in 
1835, is one of the most handsome edifices in the city and its pulpits have 
always been filled by highly talented men. The Rev. Henry Spalding as- 
sumed charge of the parish in 1866, the old building was much beautified 
but was nothing as compared with the present one. Rev. Charles Morris 
who has now given up the ministry, and is a prominent lawyer, came here 
in 1883. He was a most eloquent and forcible pastor and had the rare 
faculty of making warm friends of all he met. He early decided that the 
church as it then stood did not represent the parish as it should and his 
efforts in behalf of building a new church, met with almost immediate suc- 
cess, for in a short time it was determined to build a new church. Messrs. 
Charles Viele, M. J. Bray, and Alex H. Lemke were appointed a building 
committee. The old church was torn down. Mr. Viele gave the congrega- 
tion the use of Viele hall, which was the old Catholic church on Second 
street, during the time that they had no building. A beautiful building 
went up and was thoroughly completed by March 18, 1886, when it was dedi- 
cated. The bishops of Indiana and Illinois and 12 other ministers were 
present to assist in the ceremonies, which were very solemn and impressive. 
The foundation of the building is in the shape of a cross and its style is 
Gothic. In 1865 a parsonage was built, the greater portion of the cost of 
which was borne by Mrs. Charles Viele, who during her entire life, was 
constantly working for the church she loved so well. In 1885 Mr. Charles 
Viele bought the residence of Hon. John S. Hopkins just next to the church 
and presented it to them for a pastor's residence. The present membership 
is about 310 and the rector is Rev. W. Reid Cross. 

In 1868 Mrs. \^iele presented the church of the Holy Innocents to St. 
Paul's church. It is at the comer of Ninth and Division streets and cost 
about $25,000. It was in memory of the two little children whom Mrs. 
Viele had lost by death. The present pastor is Rev. R. M. Bolting, and their 
present membership 109. 

The First Baptist church was started early in the history of Evansville, 
about the year 1847, ^"d the first church was built of hewn logs and was 
on the southeast corner of the lot of William Dean on First street. I have 
referred to this building, before in this work as being an example of an old- 
time log house and as stated, I am sorry that it could not have been pre- 
served in some way. The first meetings of the Baptists were held in the hall 


of the old Neptune Engine house, the little building just above the E. B. A. 
building on Second street. At its first communion Sarah Kazar who after- 
wards became Mrs. Judge Foster, was baptized, Mrs. Elizabeth Turnock 
was received by letter. They were members of this church for many a 
long year. In 1851 the Baptist preachers bought a lot at the corner of Sec- 
ond and Clark streets and on February ist, 1852, they held their first meet- 
ing in the basement. At that time there were 39 members. There are 
many who do not remember that the E. & T. H. railroad depots were at 
that time near there and it was supposed that that locality would be a cen- 
tral one for the city and this is not to be wondered at because it was almost 
in the center of a line dividing Evansville from what was then known as 
Lamasco, but with the removal of the depots, things changed and the cen- 
tral portion of the city went further east and the members decided to sell 
the building and purchase a lot in a better locality. This old building was 
afterwards used as a school house and it was in the upstairs portion that I 
graduated. Judge Mathew W. Foster sold the church on the corner of 
Third and Cherry not only at a low price, but he donated liberally to the 
church. In 1863 this old building was sold to Major Walker and Marble 
hall on Main street was rented and occupied for some time. The comer 
stone of the Baptist church was placed by the two ladies above referred to, 
Mrs. Sarah K. Foster and Elizabeth Turnock and in 1868 it was dedicated. 
This building has no claim to any particular style of architecture but is plain 
and substantial. The church has a large membership but many have been 
taken away from it through the establishment of Mission churches. 

Bethel Evangelical church was established in . It has a hand- 
some building on the corner of Jefferson avenue and Garvin street, built 
of brick with stone trimmings and has a parsonage on the adjoining lot. 
Ever since its foundation it has been a popular church and had a splendid 
congregation, under the leadership of Rev. Paul Pfeiffer, pastor. The 
membership now numbers 240 and is steadily on the increase. 

Bayard Park Methodist Episcopal church is a branch of the Trinity 
Methodist Episcopal on the comer of Third and Chestnut. It has a beau- 
tiful building on Evans, between Blackford and Chandler. Recently a new 
pipe organ was bought for this church and was dedicated. 

The pipe organ was purchased at a cost of $2,500, including the expense 
of installing the instmment. A mechanic from the factory was in charge 
of the work of installing the organ. 

The history of the Bayard Park church, though covering only the lapse 
of little more than one year, has been one of prosperity for the church. 
During that length of time the congregation has gradually increased to 
more than 200 members and hard working members at that, according to 
the praise of the pastor. Rev. L. F. Freeland. They have been working 
together to lift the indebtedness from the church and their efforts are meet- 
ing with gratifying results. 



Since its very early days Evansville has been the home of many devou* 
Catholics. In the ranks of this church were found not only the French who 
drifted down from Vincennes, but the Germans who settled in this por- 
tion of the country and many of the Irish who immigrated here and it is a 
well-known fact that no church in existence numbers among its mem- 
bers those who are more devout and more devoted^ to their faith than the 
Catholics. It is worthy of record that in the very early days not only of 
this section but of the entire southwest, wherever a Catholic priest could 
find one or two even who wer faithful, the cross was erected and the pro- 
tecting care of the church was thrown over them. In the matter of stand- 
ing hardship, the Catholic priest can take a position secondary to none. 
Those who write of Ireland never fail to speak of the trials and endless 
journeys of the poor priests of that section who live on absolutely a mere 
pittance and yet are ready to give their time and their talent to the cause 
of their church. The first knowledge we have of any Catholics residing 
near Evansville was in the fall of 1836 when Rev. Gabriel Brute, the first 
bishop of Vincennes and Father Bateux came here and stopped at the 
Mansion House then kept by Francis Linck, who was one of the very 
early pioneers. He was a native of Germany and was the only Catholic in 
Evansville at that time. In the following March two French Bishops from 
Vincennes came here with the Rev. Father Anthony Deydier who was sent 
here to take charge of a mission. He lived with Mr. Linck for about a 
year, when he built a small lodge room at the corner of Fifth and Chestnut 
where he made his abode, using the little room as a dwelling and for a 
chapel for about three years. By this time other Catholics had come in and 
in the latter part of 1838 he made a trip east to raise funds for the erection 
of a church building. Catholicism in Evansville since that time has grown 
wonderfully. The poor old priest who stood by the church in its infancy 
lived to see it become rich and powerful with a numerous priesthood in 
the territory where he once worked alone. After he became so old as to 
be unable to conduct services, he returned to Vincennes and died there, 
greatly beloved by all who knew him. Assumption Parish was the first 
Catholic congregation south of Vincennes and it was the only Catholic 
church here until the year 1851 when Holy Trinity Parish was organized 
by those Catholics who spoke only German. But in 1839 a lot had been 
bought on Second street and in 1840 the cornerstone of a church was laid 
by the French bishop of Nancy, Monseigneur Forbin Jeanson, who was 
then on a visit to the diocese of Vincennes. Rev. Stephen Badin, the first 
priest ordained in the United States, preached the sermon at that time. 
This same year Rev. Roman Weinzoepfel, who had just been ordained at 
Vincennes, was sent to assist Father Deydier. In 1849 the beloved Rev. 
Patrick McDermott became assistant priest of Assumption Parish. He 
celebrated his first mass on Christmas day, 1849, ^nd became pastor in 


1859. The church property on Second street, as stated elsewhere, was 
sold through the efforts of Captain Frank B. Carson for $50,000, of which 
$5,000 was due the bishop and paid to him and in 1871 the site of the 
present Assumption church at Seventh and Vine was purchased. The work 
began in 1872 and on the 7th of July the cornerstone was laid by Bishop 
le St. Palais. Very Rev. Bede O'Connor was the orator of the occasion. 
Father McDermott realized that the congregation would grow rapidly and 
built the church on the present grand scale. In 1879 he was appointed pastor 
of St. Patrick's church in Indianapolis and left here very much to the 
regret of all, for he was a greatly beloved man not only as a priest but as a 
man. Father Eugene F. McBarron took charge in 1879 ^"d under his 
administration many additions and improvements have been made. A 
hall and school building were put up and the pastoral residence, and twenty 
feet of additional ground have been purchased. The parish grounds now 
have a frontage of 200 feet on Seventh street and 150 feet on Vine street. 
The beautiful Assumption church cost $75,000. Next to it is the Sisters' 
Home and next to that the hall and school building which cost about $7,000. 
The church is of Romanesque style of architecture, of brick with stone 
trimmings and is said to be one of the most substantial church edifices in 
the west. There are four rooms in the Assumption school, three of which 
are taught by the Sisters. Mr. John F. Boyle, a son of one of the pioneers 
here and a brother of Mrs. Rose Jageman, who has so long been connected 
with the Hughes millinery store, was for a long time the teacher. He was 
a most estimable man and his departure from here caused deep regret. 

Rev. Father McBarron, member of the Bishop's council and the pastor 
of the church of the Assumption, was born in 1844 and has been in this 
city so long in charge of this church, that he is deserving of a thorough 
record. He was first educated in Kentucky and then at St. Meinrad's 
Benedictine Abbey and finally at the grand Seminary at Montreal, where 
he finished theology and learned the French language. He was ordained 
priest at Vincennes in 1871 by Bishop de St. Palais. His first mission was 
at St. Mary's of the Woods. He remained there eight years and did much 
good. In 1879 he was appointed pastor of the church of the Assumption. 
No other man is better fitted for this place than he. His preaching is plain 
and forcible. He is very firm and just in his decisions and not above tak- 
ing advice. There are few priests better loved and appreciated than is 
Father McBarron. 

Rev. Patrick H. Rowan is assistant pastor of this church. He was born 
in 1859 and studied at St. Meinrad's Benedictine abbey until 1878 and then 
for two years in the American college at Rome. He returned to the United 
States on account of ill health and was ordained priest at Baltimore by 
Cardinal Archbishop Gibbons and celebrated his first mass on the 7th of 
June, 1885. He was commissioned for his work here in June, 1885. He 
is also a beloved man and admired by all. 


With an entertainment in Trinity school hall brought to a close June 
7, 1910, the celebration of the jubilee of Rev. Father P. H. Rowan, pastor 
of St. Joseph's church, closed. Tuesday marked Father Rowan's twenty- 
fifth anniversary in the priesthood. 

Sixteen priests helped to celebrate the solemn high jubilee mass Tues- 
day morning at 9:30 at St. Joseph's church and several hundred white 
clad children marched in procession. A niece of Father Rowan's, a mere 
tot, represented the Blessed Virgin and was permitted to remain in the 
sanctuary during the mass. 

Rev. Francis P. Ryves, of Howell, was master of ceremonies at the 
mass, Rev. James Wade acted as deacon and Rev. X. Unterreitmeir as sub- 

Irish and German songs were sung at the ceremony. Miss Nora Kelly 
leading the choir in "Wei Gands," in honor of St. Patrick, Father Rowan's 
patron saint. The music concluded with "Grosser Gott." The jubilee ser- 
mon was preached by Father Joseph Burns. Father Rowan thanked the 
clergy for attending in such numbers. 

Following the mass a spread was set for the guests. Cakes and ices 
were served in gold and white. The table was lighted with twenty-five can- 
dles, signifying the number of years of Father Rowan's priesthood. The 
center of the table was occupied with an oval flower bank. 

Rev. P. H. Fitzpatrick was toastmaster. Toasts were responded to by 
Fathers Lewis Guethneck, Joseph Dickman, Francis Ryves, Michael Hal- 
pin, and Lubberman. Others who were at the table were Fathers John 
McCabe, Henry Flaherty, Kilian Scott, A. Schnellenberger, Joseph Burns, 
Michael Seter, M. Schmitz, Wm. Jochum, George Doesch and Rev. A. 


This was not regarded as a separate congregation until 185 1 when the 
new church of that name was blessed in the presence of the Right Reverend 
Bishops and is used exclusively by the German-speaking Catholics. Before 
that the Catholics of all dilTerent languages attended the Assumption 
church. For several years separate services continued to be held there for 
the Germans and Rev. Charles Oppermann, Martin Stahl, Conrad Schnie- 
derjans and Roman Weinzoeppel succeeded each other in charge of the 
Germans and as assistant to Father Deydier. The first resident pastor 
was Rev. Francis X. Kutassy who came here in 1848. He organized the 
Holy Trinity parish and built the church. 

In 1849 the corner stone was laid by Bishop de St. Palais but on account 
of the ravages of the cholera, the work was not completed until 1851. In 
1855 the parsonage was built which cost $1,500. In 1866 Rev. J. Fred 
Viefhaus was sent as an assistant to Father Kutassy. Stained glass win- 
dows were put in the new church in 1867 at the cost of $2,700. Chimes 
were put in the tOwer of the church which cost $5,000. In 1872 Rev. 


Ploescher became the assistant priest, Rev. Father Viefhaus having under- 
taken the work of building up St. Mary's Parish. On the nth of October, 
1874, the Golden Jubilee of the noble pastor, Rev. Father Kutassy, was 
celebrated and as a sort of finish to his labors, he died on the 27th of the 
same month. He was buried at St. Joseph's cemetery, and a beautiful 
monument was erected to his memory. He was the first priest interred in 
that cemetery. 

Father Duddenhausen next took charge of the church, with Father 
Bultmann as his assistant, and celebrated the public services with much 
pomp and solemnity. Father Bultmann then took up the work of organizing 
St. Boniface's parish and was succeeded by Father F. B. Luebberman. 

In 1853 the Sisters of Providence came to teach the children of the Holy 
Trinity parish and in i860 a school was built for the girls only. In 1869 the 
old buildings were torn down and the present school was erected. Father 
Duddenhausen died in 1886 and was interred in St. Joseph's cemetery. His 
death was mourned by all who knew him. He was succeeded by Rev. H. 
John Diestel, who had been for about 25 years, pastor of St. Philip's church 
in Posey county. He was ordained priest by Bishop de St. Palais in 1864. 
His assistant was Rev. Francis Siepen, a resident of Evansville and a man 
of much promise. 

St. Mary's parish is the third Catholic congregation formed in Evans- 
ville and dates back to 1866. The first work done by the pastor, Rev. John 
Ferdinand Viefhaus, after the purchase of the present site of the parish 
buildings, was the erection of a two-story brick school-house at a cost of 
about $s,ooo. This building stands at the corner of Sixth and Cherry. 
Next to the church stands the parish and the grounds are 240 feet by 145 
feet. The church is of the Gothic style and is imposing in appearance. The 
cornerstone was laid by Bishop de St. Palais in 1866. Sixteen priests were 
present and also a great crowd of people. It was used for the first time 
on January ist, 1868. The spire, which stands 175 feet, is surmounted 
by a golden cross and in the tower is a chime of three bells, beautiful in tone. 
The church cost $60,000. The church has lately been covered with stone 
which gives it a massive effect. 

St. Boniface's parish was organized in 1880. The first move to build 
this church was a meeting of prominent Catholic Germans at the residence 
of Mr. Charles Schulte in 1878. A letter setting forth the facts was sent 
to the bishop, and a lot on Wabash avenue, worth $10,000 was purchased 
for $5,000, for the site of the parish buildings. On January 4th, 1880, Rev. 
Bishop Chatard visited Evansville and received the deed to the property 
from the gentlemen, created the St. Boniface's parish and appointed Rev. 
William Bultmann as pastor. At the meeting of interested Catholics $10,000 
was promptly pledged in support of the new parish. Work was begun on 
the temporary frame church on February ist of that year and on the follow- 
ing Sunday, high mass and vespers were sung in the same. After two 
months an addition had to be made to accommodate the people and in less 


than a year later, this building was torn down, to give room for the present 
grand edifice. The cornerstone of the present St. Boniface's church was 
laid with imposing ceremonies on September 4, 1 881, by Rev. Roman Wein- 
zoepfel. All of the Catholics of Evansville were out and the day was a 
memorable one. The work on the new church was pushed rapidly that the 
church was dedicated on April 27th, of the following year. The church 
has two spires and stands 202 feet high. In 1885 a splendid school building 
was erected at a cost of $10,000. The first school was built by Mr. Adam 
Helfrich and its use donated by him for a year. This has been torn away 
and a beautiful building with an imposing exterior put in its stead. This 
church has a very large membership and is presided over by Father J. H. 

The Sacred Heart parish is the fifth parish organized in Evansville. 
Within its limits there were about 50 families who had to go more than a 
mile distant to attend the Assumption church. In learning the facts, the 
right reverend Bishop consented to a building of a church for these people, 
which would be for a time, a sort of chapel of ease to the Assumption 
church. Mr. John A. Reitz, a prominent and wealthy citizen of another 
parish, donated not only the ground, but also the church, he himself super- 
intending the construction. Rev. P. R. Fitzpatrick took charge of the par- 
ish on December 4th, 1887, and its independence dates from that time. The 
church was dedicated November 15th, 1885. 

St. Anthony's parish is a new church. Its first pastor. Rev. Joseph Schuck, 
was appointed March loth, 1888. It has erected a school building. It cost 
$10,000. St. Anthony's church stands at the comer of Second avenue and 
Columbia street. It is 150x250 feet and was the gift of Mrs. Magdalene 
Reis, a wealthy and charitable lady. Father Schuck is still the priest at this 
parish and is much beloved by all who know him. 

The German Lutheran Trinity church was started by the Germans who 
came to this city on the tide of immigration that poured in about 1845, there 
were many who had been taught to worship God in accordance with the 
teachings of Martin Luther. A leader of these Christians was Rev. An- 
drew Saupert, who enjoyed the proud distinction of being the oldest Chris- 
tian minister in continuous service in Evansville. He served his congrega- 
tion with great zeal and devotion for more than 40 years. In 1871 the con- 
gregation erected the handsome church edifice now in use and which is on 
Illinois street between Third and Fourth avenues, at the cost of $25,000. 
It is Gothic in style and seats 700 persons, has a steeple 145 feet high, and 
a brick tower rising 82 feet. Rev. Chas. A. Frank is the present pastor, and 
the church has a large membership. 

Of the German Lutheran St. Emanuel's church, the congregation that 
went to make up this church, was formerly a part of that brought to- 
gether by Rev. Andrew Saupert. In 1854 a commodious brick church was 
built on the corner of First avenue and Franklin street, which is still in 
use. The pastors who have served this church have been Rev. Risch, J. 


Dirksen, Chr. Young, J. A. Reidenbach, J. Bank, Henry Koenig and George 
Bachmann, and Rev. A. C. Kleinlein. 

Zion's German Evangelical church was organized on New Year's day, 
1849, with about 35 members, and Rev. Henry Toelke was its first pastor. 
He served the congregation for about four years and did much good while 
in the pastorate. The congregation is mostly all Germans and its faith is 
somewhat like the Presbyterians. The church is on Fifth street between 
Ingle and Bond and was erected at the cost of $5,000. The present pastor 
is Rev. J. U. Schnieder. 

St. John's Evangelical Protestant church is situated at the corner of 
Third and Ingle streets and Second avenue, and Wm. N. Dresel is pastor. 

On the first day of April, 1850, eighty-nine heads of families met to or- 
ganize St. John's German Evangelical Protestant church of Evansville, 
Vanderburg County. Prior to this occasional services were held in the 
mother tongue when traveling preachers visited the city, the little congre- 
gation meeting in the old Court House, and continuing to do so until their 
edifice was completed at the corner of lower Third and Ingle streets. But 
before the house of worship was completed a terrific wind storm arose, 
tearing down the walls and necessitating a reconstruction. Although the 
cornerstone was laid on June i, 1851, the building was not dedicated until 
Nov. 28, 1852, the side walls of the original building still standing at the 
present writing (1910). Years afterward, another storm tore away the 
steeple, so that some time later (1893) the present handsome facade was 

Other important dates in the history of St. John's church are: 1865— 
organization of the "Frauen Verein," the Ladies' society (German) now 
numbering 193 members. 1867 — erection of the present parsonage. 1868^ 
erection of the parochial school building, now used as a hall and parish 
house by the societies. 1872 and 1881 — remodeling of church, especially 
the interior, the erection of the galleries, and the pulpit, altar and pews of 
finely carved solid walnut. 1900 — organization of the Young People's 
Society (now numbering 140). 1902 — (Nov. 23) Golden Jubilee of the 
Dedication. 1904 — dedication of the large organ, the first three-manual in- 
strument placed in a church in southwestern Indiana (containing 34 speak- 
ing stops, including a set of 37 tubular chimes, 13 couplers, 6 mechanicals, 
6 pedal movements and 23 adjustable combination pistons). 105 — organiza- 
tion of the Ladies' Aid Society (English) now numbering 215 members. 
IQ07 — remodeling of parsonage and hall. 1908 — organization of the Men's 
Society and the Willing Workers, the former now numbering 121 and the 
latter 62 members. 

After the abandonment of the parochial school in the early seventies,' in 
which for a time four teachers were employed, a Sunday school was insti- 
tuted which has kept pace with the growth and development of the congre- 
gation. Presently it is known as "The School that's different," and is com- 
pletely organized and graded with nine departments, 14 officers, 42 teachers 


and 579 pupils — total 645 in the main school, the Cradle Roll numbering 
165 and the Home Department 579, a grand total of 1,389. 

Strange as it may seem, the minutes of the first years have been lost, 
whereas the finance books date back to 1850. The church record, or reg- 
ister of baptisms, marriages, etc., has been accurately kept, showing that 
during the sixty years ending with April i, 1910, there had been 6,392 
batpisms, 2,13 confirmations, 2,593 marriages and 2„T2)'^ burials recorded. 
From 89 heads of families, as clmrter members, the congregation has in- 
creased to 716 heads of families as voting members and a trifle more than 
1,800 communicant members, there being 802 homes on the visiting list. 

The congregation remains independent of any synodical or denomina- 
tional afiiliation, although the present pastor is a member of the German 
Evangelical Synod of N. A. The congregation holds to the Evangelical 
doctrine and practices, observes the sacraments of baptism and Lord's Sup- 
per, demands catechetical instruction and practices the rite of confirm- 
ation, dividing its membership into constituent (with power to vote) and 
communicant members. 

The pastors serving St. John's have been C. H. Straeter (1850-52), 
Theodore Klingsohr (1852-53), Rudolph Kehr (1853-54), Wm. Schmidt 
(1854-58), C. Kretschmar (1858-64), C. L. Chr. Runk (1864-90), J. Blass 
(1890-1901), Aug. Lange (1901-06). Wm. N. Dresel, since 1907. 

The present officers of the congregation are: President, Mr. Philip 
Klein ; vice president, Mr. Wm. Weintz ; recording secretary, Mr. Carl 
Lauenstein; financial secretary, Mr. J. H. Rohsenberger ; treasurer, Mr> 
Philip Grill ; these, together with Mr. Hy. Schminke, Vlx. Wm. Bischmann, 
Mr. Jacob Rust and Mr. Paul Kaltofen, constituting the church council. 

St. John's is noted for the splendid music rendered by the large chorus 
choir, and the boy choir, under the efficient leadership of the choir-master 
and organist, Prof. Paris R. Myers, who is also conductor of the Evans- 
ville Oratorio Society. 

Services are conducted in the German language every Sunday morning 
and at night in English. 

Of the Jewish Temples, the Congregation B'nai Israel was organized in 
1857. Seven years later the society built a temple, at the corner of Sixth 
and Division, at the cost of $45,000. It is a handsome building and is 
Moorish Saracenic in style. William Wechsler was the rabbi. The society 
is intelligent and contains some of the best citizens in the community. 

In 1903 a new temple was built on Washington avenue. This is made 
up of the members who were formerly attending the temple on Sixth 
street. They have the finest church in this section of the country and is 
in charge at present of Rabbi Meritt, a man with a very promising future 
and who has done much good during the time he has been with them. 
They have a membership of 140 families, or 450 souls, and are growing 
very rapidly. 


The Christian church was what was formerly called the Disciples of 
Christ and a small congregation who believed in that faith began to hold 
meetings in this city in 1868. Elder George Flower came here the next 
year and organized a church. He was a man of great force of character 
and his powers of oratory were also very good. He married the eldest 
daughter of Judge F. S. Buchanan. For some time the members of this, 
congregation worshiped in the Criminal Court building which has been 
referred to before as being next to the Lottie hotel. After Elder Flower 
was succeeded by Elder Carter, the latter resigned and Elder Alfred 
Flower, the father of the first pastor, took his place. The congregation, 
did not grow as had been expected and it was found impossible to raise 
enough money to erect a church and in fact, for a time the society seemed 
to go out of existence. But in November, 1885, a reorganization was ef- 
fected and this was due to the work of the late W. W. Ireland, F. W. 
Gibbs, J. R. Ferguson, Dr. Floyd Williams and a few others. They then 
held their meetings in the old Baptist church at the corner of Second and 
Qark streets. It was here that Rev. George Piatt, the first regular min- 
ister, took charge and preached until 1886. The next pastor was Rev. Neal 
McLeod, a very hard worker and a successful pastor. He put new vitality 
into the society and its membership was quickly enlarged. There had been 
a Unitarian church in the city which had become extinct and their building 
at the corner of Seventh and Walnut streets was bought by the Christian 
denomination. In March, 1899, a movement for the erection of a new 
church building was started and the ground at the corner of Third street 
and Blackford avenue was purchased in May of the same year. The build- 
ing was commenced in the spring of 1900 and completed and dedicated 
September 16, 1900. It is a very modern church building with a seating 
capacity of four hundred. A handsome pipe organ has recently been in- 
stalled by the Ladies Aid Society. The membership is about 300 and their 
present pastor is the Rev. Wm. E. Sweeny. The church is in a prosperous 
condition and among its members are numbered some of the best families 
of the city. 






It was in the year 1856 that the town corporation of Evansville which 
was organized in 18 19, ended its existence and this place became known as 
the city of Evansville. The council appointed the first mayor who was 
James G. Jones, who took his position at the head of the council and the 
city on the 12th of April, 1847, but the city was incorporated in January of 
that year by a special act of the legislature. Mayor Jones lived in a small 
two-story cottage with a little lattice porch in front, which stood where 
the Speed Publishing Company now have their building. He had lived 
here for many years, having come here from Gibson county where he mar- 
ried a Miss Brazelton. Under him were the following councilmen : 

First ward, L. L. Laycock ; Second ward, Silas Stevens ; Third ward, 
Willard Carpenter; Fourth ward, C. M. Griffith; Fifth ward, Lewis Howes; 
Sixth ward, John Hewson. 

John J. Chandler was clerk, Samuel Orr, treasurer, William Bell, asses- 
sor, collector and marshal, William M. Walter, surveyor, James E. Blythe, 
attorney. Most of these men I knew afterwards. Mr. Blythe for a long 
time, lived where the residence of ex-mayor Goodlett now stands. Lewis 
Howes was of the old firm of Allis and Howes, and John Hewson lived in 
the two-story brick just back of the shoe factory at Second and Division. 
Mr. Jones served as mayor until the year 1853, when he was succeeded by 
John S. Hopkins. Under the old charter, the mayor's term expired after 
three years. In 1856, John Hewson, who had been a councilman, was ap- 
pointed and served for a term of three years. He then gave up to William 
Baker, a brother of governor Conrad Baker, who served long and faithfully 
until in 1868 he gave up his office to William H. Walker. On the death of 
Mr. Walker in 1870 Eccles G. Van Riper was appointed mayor by the coun- 
cil and served until the 12th of November of 1870. It was when Mr. Van- 
Riper, a New Yorker who came here with Fatman and Company, represent- 
ing tobacco interests and became identified with politics, that this town be- 
came acquainted with the Metropolitan way (or crooked) or rather the 
New York way of running politics and it is very safe to remark that it has 
never yet gotten over it. The seeds sown by the expert VanRiper seemed 



to fall on fruitful ground, as it would be hard to find a solitary city in 
America where the little game of politics is played to such a close finish 
or so close up to one's shirt front as it is in the city of Evansville today. 
There was a special election held in 1870 and William Baker was again 
elected. Mr. Baker, of whom the writer could only speak with the greatest 
of esteem and reverence, was one of the best men the Almighty ever gave 
the breath of life. He was absolutely honest and honorable in every sense 
of the word. His love for Evansville was great and he was willing at any 
time to sacrifice his own interests for those of the city. Like all other men 
he had a few enemies but he was so absolutely just when he made his de- 
cisions, and in everything with which he was connected, that even his most 
bitter enemies looked up to him with respect. When he died, Evansville 
lost a man whose memory will never be forgotten. He died in June, 1872, 
and Charles H. Butterfield, who came here and first taught in the Canal 
street school and later the High school of Evansville and then went into 
the arms where he made a most brilliant record, was elected to fill the va- 
cancy. He filled the ofiice until 1874, when the democrats elected John J. 
Kleiner, who at that time taught the Commercial college in the old building 
known as the Commercial hall, which stands just across from the Echel 
block. Mr. Kleiner was what is known as a dark horse. He was a German 
by birth and was so affable in his manners and such a great mixer and 
quick reader of men, that he was elected to the mayor's chair without any 
trouble. Of course the city was then democratic as it was when Thomas C. 
Bridwell was elected in 1880. Mr. Bridwell served for two terms. He was 
a man well liked by everybody and filled the office very acceptably. At the 
next election in 1886 there came a complete surprise. There are few men 
in this city who do not know John Dannetell, or "Johnny" Dannetell as he 
was then called. He was first a clerk for the old firm of Vautier and Mar- 
connier, an old French firm, that did business for years in the old building 
now occupied by Mark Gross. In fact, the rear portion of this building is 
composed of the same material which was there at that time. Johnny Dan- 
netell was known as a great mixer, was familiar with the Germans and their 
language, full of jokes, and always with a good story to tell. When he was 
nominated by the republicans, the older heads in the party seemed to think 
that it was merely a joke but they forgot that at times young blood calls for 
its inning. He was elected without much trouble and served the office ac- 
ceptably. But in 1889 things again changed and N. M. Goodlett was elected. 
Mr. Goodlett was an ex-merchant who had gone out of business and who 
had very little thought at that time of entering politics, although he came 
of a family that had held high political offices. In 1892 the weather cock 
changed again and A. C. Hawkins was elected. He ran again 1895 and was 
re-elected. It was during his administration that the special charter under 
which the city of Evansville now works, went into effect. This was on the 
3rd of March, 1893, and it was amended on the nth of March, 1895. This 
charter, as amended, was the first one to make the mayor responsible for 


the administration of city affairs and he was compelled to appoint the heads 
of the different departments who were all responsible for their acts by him. 

In 1897, after all these years of republican rule, the people clamored 
for a change and WiUiam M. Aiken, a splendid young man in every sense 
of the word, was elected by a great majority. It is but simple justice to 
this much loved and now departed friend, to say that he did his best to 
make the business of the city a business affair in all particulars. He in- 
troduced new means and measures and selected his assistants not with an 
eye to their ability to get votes, but with due regard to their business abil- 
ity. It is too late and a wase of time to say much about any certain ad- 
ministration that is past and gone, but to say that this was a distinct change 
from affairs as they had been in the past, is certainly telling the forcible 

The next mayor was Chas. G. Covert who began his career as a re- 
porter on the Tribune. This was his first entry into politics and without 
diverging from the subject, it is a fact that today he is quoted by some of 
the most influential men in the repubhcan party and by this I mean men 
of almost national standing, as being one of the shrewdest politicians in the 
state of Indiana. To tlie writer who has known him since his boyhood, 
Mr. Covert is, in many respects, a wonderful character. His memory of 
names and little incidents is absolutely remarkable and it is a fact that 
today he can stand on Main street at any prominent corner and address 
75 per cent of the men who pass by, by their first names, and can refer to 
little incidents that they supposed were long forgotten and can even gd 
into little details about their families which they had supposed were almost 
unknown. Further he was a keen reader of men. A man might sit and 
tell him a long story about any particular political situation and Covert 
would agree with him on every point, looking him directly in the eye and 
ever and anon giving him a most approving nod. He would let this second 
party tell his whole story, give him a warm shake of the hand and beg him 
to drop in again at any time, as he would always be glad to see him, etc., 
etc., and then after the door was closed, turn to some friend and say, 
"Well, that fellow thought he was loading me up good, but he lied to me 
from start to finish." It was this reading of men that was almost an in- 
stinct with him. Adding these traits to his strong personal magnetism, 
his affability, his readiness to help any poor fellow who was in need and 
his ability to mix with any crowd, no matter of what standing, one can 
easily see how he has held one position after another until it seems that 
he will never be satisfied until he sits in the presidential chair. I for my 
part would not be surprised to see him there some day for I know better 
than a great many men his wonderful capabilities. Mr. Covert served as 
mayor five years and was succeeded by John W. Boehne, who was the 
most businesslike mayor who has ever held the chair since the days of 
William Baker. When Mr. Boehne made his race there were many who 
claimed that he could not possibly be elected, but when asked why, the ex- 


cuses were so varied and so lacking in weight that they amounted to noth- 
ing. One man would say that his church did not suit him. Another would 
claim that he was a fanatic on the temperance question and men have even 
been heard to say that they would not vote for him because he did not like 
dogs and insisted upon their being muzzled. People just then seemed to 
be hunting a man to whom business was the first thing and politics some- 
tliing to come later on and there are few men in Evansville today who can 
cast one solitary slur against his administration. 

During all this time John J. Nolan had acted under him and had be- 
come thoroughly imbued with many of Mr. Boehne's ideas so much, that 
when the latter was elected to congress he filled in the nine months of the 
unexpired term to the satisfaction of everybody. He then made the race 
for mayor but was beaten by a small majority by Mr. Charles Heilman, 
who now holds this important ofiice. 

Before the selection of Air. Heilman to make the race there were many 
people in the repubhcan party and it was thought by the democrats that 
his election would be an absolute impossibility but the fact remains that he 
was elected and since he has been in office has been giving a first-class 
administration. As to the members of his various boards, certainly no one 
can object to them. They are earnest men who seem determined 
to do their duty and there is no reason why Mr. Heilman should not make 
as great a record as that of his father, who was as good a man as ever 
lived in the city of Evansville. 


In this work the intent is to keep away from dry detail as much as 
possible. It has been said of former works on this same subject "The City 
of Evansville," that they consisted of a few facts known to everyone about 
the founding of the city, after which there were numerous biographies of 
any one who cared to pay for them and that the space between was filled in 
with long lists of names in which people took no interest. But how is one to 
speak of the progress of the city and give due recognition to those who 
assisted in that progress, without giving the names of those first progressive 
citizens which lived here. For this reason and in order to show the public 
just who were the ones who first took the burden of making this city what 
it now is, upon their shoulders, it is deemed best to give the names of quite 
a number of the first officials. It will be seen that those names exist today 
in great numbers among our citizens. A great majority of them are 
descendants of these most worthy people. Many of them have passed away, 
while some still are being blessed with good health, and, suffering only from 
the infirmities that are natural to old age, still live among us. 

So we take up these first common councils and city officials beginning 
at the time when Mayor Jones took charge. 


During the first year of Mayor Jones' administration, the councilmen 
who first met April 8, 1848, were as follows : First ward, J. M